Smoking and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease. Currently there are an estimated ten million Americans suffering with the disease and millions more have low bone mass and are at risk. Too often a person will sustain a painful fracture before becoming aware that they have the disease. By this time the disease is usually in the advance stages and severe damage has already occurred.

Unfortunately there are no symptoms present in the early stages of the disease. There is no single cause that can be attributed to osteoporosis but several risk factors have been identified. While the most prominent factors are uncontrollable and attributed to genetics and age, there are several factors that can be changed which have a moderate impact on the risk of developing osteoporosis.

No Secret

The negative affects of smoking on the body have long since been recognized. It is general knowledge that smoking increases the risk of contracting several illnesses and diseases as well as having a significant morbidity and mortality rate.

Added to the list of diseases that smoking puts one at risk for is osteoporosis. It has been more than twenty years now since smoking was first named as a risk factor for osteoporosis. Recent studies have been able to demonstrate a direct link between tobacco use and a decrease in bone density.

Smoking seems to impact osteoporosis in several ways. Smoking not only reduces the peak bone mass attained early on in life but also increases the rate of bone loss in older adults. While everyone loses bone mass as they age, if there is not an adequate supply to begin with than the effects can be devastating.

Fractures and Breaks

This weakening of the bone structure is what causes fractures and breaks to occur more easily. Most studies have shown that smoking increases the risk of suffering a fracture. It has been shown that the longer one smokes and the more they smoke, the greater the risk of fracture later in life. Smokers take longer to heal from fractures then non-smokers. Studies also suggest that exposure from second hand smoke in youth may lead to the development of lower than average bone mass.

It is difficult to accurately analyze and conclude the effect that smoking has on osteoporosis since there are several factors involved. Smokers tend to be thinner, more sedentary than nonsmokers, Statistically smokers are more likely to consume more alcohol and women who smoke undergo menopause at a younger age than those who do not smoke. All of these are defined as other risk factors for osteoporosis as they are all associated with low bone mass. So in theory one who smokes can have several more risk factors than one who does not smoke.

While it may be difficult to determine exactly how much smoking alone increases the risk of osteoporosis, studies have concluded that quitting smoking reduces the risk of low bone mass and fractures. Smoking also impacts the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. Since hormone replacement therapy is often used and smoking interferes with the effects of estrogen and testosterone.