Smoking And Bone Health

Smoking and bone health are linked in discouraging ways. The connection between smoking, bone loss and osteoporosis offers quite the incentive than to quit smoking, especially if you’re at high risk of osteoporosis for other reasons.

Smoking, Bone Density and Osteoporosis

If you’ve had a long-term habit of smoking, your bone density may be reduced. You may also be at risk of low bone mass if you were exposed to secondhand smoke as a child or a young adult. Female smokers often have lower levels of estrogen, and as a result, may experience menopause earlier, which may lower bone density.

Smoking, Bone Loss and Fractures

Fractures can be a problem for those with reduced bone density as a result of long-term smoking. Bone loss is difficult to reverse, and bones with decreased mass are weaker and break more easily. After fractures, smokers take longer to heal and experience a higher risk of complications during the process, which may be due to reduced levels of oxygen in the blood.

Smoking and Bone Health: Protect Your Bones

The best thing you can do for your long term bone health is quit smoking. Bone loss and low bone density may not be easy to reverse, but they are preventable. In addition to quitting smoking, bone density can be maintained by taking the following steps:

  • Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, calcium-rich dairy products and calcium-fortified foods. Supplements may also increase this intake, which should stay above 1,000 milligrams per day. After age 50, increase this to 1,200 milligrams per day. Include vitamin D in your diet as well, since it’s an essential element of calcium absorption.
  • Get enough exercise. Weight bearing exercises are especially important for your bones, which are living tissue and become stronger with use.
  • Have your bone density tested. Even if you’re not quite ready to quit smoking, a bone density test may still be a good idea.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol use can interfere with calcium absorption, and it may increase the risk of falls and related fractures.

Resources

Boden, S. (2006). Stop smoking, alcohol abuse. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/osteoporosis/stopping-smoking-alcohol-abuse

Health Central. (2010). Smoking and bone health. Retrieved September 25, 2010, from http://www.healthcentral.com/osteoporosis/resources.html

New York State Department of Health. (2002). The effect of cigarette smoking on the development of osteoporosis. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/conditions/osteoporosis/smoking.htm

Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. (2010). Smoking and bone health. Retrieved September 25, 2010, from http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/Conditions_Behaviors/bone_smoking.asp