Oral contraceptives and cigarette smoking: A review of the literature and future directions

Alicia M. Allen, Andrea H. Weinberger, Reagan R. Wetherill, Carol L. Howe, Sherry A. McKee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Evidence continues to mount indicating that endogenous sex hormones (eg, progesterone and estradiol) play a significant role in smoking-related outcomes. Although approximately one out of four premenopausal smokers use oral contraceptives (OCs), which significantly alter progesterone and estradiol levels, relatively little is known about how OCs may influence smokingrelated outcomes. Thus, the goal of this review article is to describe the state of the literature and offer recommendations for future directions. Methods: In March 2017, we searched seven databases, with a restriction to articles written in English, using the following keywords: nicotine, smoker(s), smoking, tobacco, cigarettes, abstinence, withdrawal, and craving(s). We did not restrict on the publication date, type, or study design. Results: A total of 13 studies were identified. Three studies indicated faster nicotine metabolism in OC users compared to nonusers. Five of six laboratory studies that examined physiological stress response noted heightened response in OC users compared to nonusers. Three studies examined cessation-related symptomatology (eg, craving) with mixed results. One cross-sectional study observed greater odds of current smoking among OC users, and no studies have explored the relationship between OC use and cessation outcomes. Conclusions: Relatively few studies were identified on the role of OCs in smoking-related outcomes. Future work could explore the relationship between OC use and mood, stress, weight gain, and brain function/connectivity, as well as cessation outcomes. Understanding the role of OC use in these areas may lead to the development of novel smoking cessation interventions for premenopausal women. Implications: This is the first review of the relationship between oral contraceptives (OCs) and smoking- related outcomes. The existing literature suggests that the use of OCs is related to increased nicotine metabolism and physiological stress response. However, the relationship between OC use and smoking-related symptoms (eg, craving) is mixed. Further, no published data were available on OC use and smoking cessation outcomes. Therefore, we recommend additional research be conducted to characterize the relationship between OC use and smoking cessation outcomes, perhaps as a function of the effect of OC use on mood, stress, weight gain, and brain function/connectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-601
Number of pages10
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Volume21
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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