26 Mar Stop Smoking to Avoid Bone Fractures
”According to NCSCT, overall risk of any fracture is increased
by about 25% in current smokers and for hip fractures risk is increased between 40–84%”
Smoking is the biggest preventable killer in England that contributes to more than 80, 000 deaths per year. The statistics are devastating; 50 % of smokers will die from smoking related disease, with 25 % of these being from lung cancer.
Another effect on the body from smoking that shouldn’t be overlooked is associated with the weakening of the bones. Weak and brittle bones mainly affect the ageing population and are found to be more common in women. However, smokers are much more likely to have brittle bones and are more prone to fractures.
Why our bones become weaker?
As we age, our bones gradually become less dense, this happens in both men and women. Because of this, the gradual loss of bone mass can result in weaker bones the older we get. Besides ageing, other factors such as smoking, lack of resistance exercise (weight bearing exercise), ethnicity and heavy alcohol consumption contribute to weak and brittle bones.
How does smoking affect bone density?
It is not very well known how smoking reduces bone density because smokers are often known to be physically inactive and consume more alcohol, contributing to weaker bones. Yet, evidence shows that smoking reduces how Vitamin D is used in our body. Vitamin D is a key substance that is responsible for absorbing calcium into our bones. Because calcium makes our bones dense and strong, it is vital for our body. Smoking inhibits Vitamin D which stops calcium being absorbed, this prevents our body from building a strong and dense bone mass.
In addition, smoking is related to lower levels of estrogen in both men and women. In our bones, estrogen works as a substance that holds minerals such as calcium in our bones. As an example, the reason why hip fractures are so common in postmenopausal women is because women produce lower levels of estrogen. Even if you take a Vitamin D supplementation or estrogen medication, smoking suppresses the utilisation of these substances in our body.
Do not forget that it is never too late to quit smoking because deterioration of bone mass stops progressing as quickly once you have stopped smoking.