There is a direct relationship between smoking and decreased bone density, says research that has been confirmed by doctors in their clinical practice. In addition, smoking has indirect effects on bone health too, as a result of other unhealthy habits young smokers may pick up.
“Smoking has a negative effect on the bones, causing loss of bone mass, and eventually, premature osteoporosis, when young people take up smoking. We see that smoking as a habit begins in high school or the college years when bones are still developing. This is alarming because when bone density is low it makes the person more vulnerable to bone breaks at a young age. At the same time, smoking and alcohol consumption also interferes with calcium and vitamin D absorption in the body,” says Dr. (Prof.) Raju Vaishya, Senior Orthopaedic Surgeon, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.
Tobacco consumption in any form has a series of negative repercussions on health. While increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease is the most talked about, we often tend to overlook the ill effect of smoking on the bones. A recent meta-analysis (acknowledged by WHO) concludes that roughly one in eight hip fractures can be attributed to cigarette smoking. Besides, in case of a bone injury, a person who smokes is more likely to have a longer period of recovery and greater risk of complication, say doctors.
“Smoking during the years of bone-building puts you at risk of osteoporosis in later stage. Smoking after 30 will speed up loss of bone mass almost twice as faster. Your whole body will lose bone mass, but hip, spine, and wrist are the most affected areas in general. The shocking part is inhaling second-hand smoke affects your bones in the same way,” adds Dr. Vaishya.