How Smoking Affects the Bones

If you or a friend are a smoker, this information should be very valuable to you.

For several years, my friend, Sally has been trying to cut down on smoking. She started by smoking one less cigarette per day for a whole week. And then the next week, she cut down one more. But before she got down to zero per day, she always seemed to hit a roadblock and go right back to square one.

Sally’s struggle reminded me of one of my husband’s illustrations that he used with our children. He told of a friend Jim who thought it would hurt his dog too much if he cut its tail off all at once, so he cut off just an inch at a time for several weeks.

That story was applied to many situations to encourage our children to just get a job done all at once instead of puttering around and dragging the job out for a long time. (We never believed it was a true story, but it often made the point.)

Sally knew that smoking was bad for her lungs. She had no idea how bad it was for her bones.

Are you wondering how smoking affects the bones? There are two processes going on continuously in healthy bones. Osteoclasts break down old bone tissue and osteoblasts build new bone tissue. Smoking inhibits both processes. The bone becomes brittle because instead of new bone tissue replacing the old, the old tissue just accumulates and becomes older.

For that reason, smoking reduces bone density by up to 25 per cent and increases the risk of hip and other fractures.

Osteoporosis cannot be ignored. It is a deadly disease. Did you know that it kills more women in the UK than ovarian, cervical and uterine cancers combined? I haven’t seen the recent statistics for the United States, but I know it is high.

On March 16, 2010, the International Osteoporosis Foundation introduced their work to the European Parliament.

The IOF is based in Nyon, Switzerland. According to HealthNewDigest, their aim is to:

“educate the public about osteoporosis, empower people to take responsibility for their bone health, persuade governments to make this disease a health care priority, and to assist health care professionals in providing the best possible care to patients and sufferers”.

That sounds like a worthy goal to me, as up to 20 per cent of women who suffer hip fractures die within six months of sustaining the fracture! This is a preventable fact!

We are often told that bone density is affected by how well you ate as a child. But it is also affected by how well you eat today. It is never too soon or too late to improve the condition of your bones. I improved mine after 65 years of age and many who are suffering with osteopenia and osteoporosis today, are much younger than 65.

Now is the time to make necessary, simple changes in your eating plan and add necessary supplements to avoid the pain of this often silent disease. Why not start today to eat more protein and fresh fruit and vegetables?