Smoking is Bad for Your Bones

Teen girls who smoke may be at higher risk for future bone disease

A study found that teen girls who smoke might be at greater risk for osteoporosis. According to the study, those girls build up less bone during this critical growth period in their lives. Smoking has the greatest effect on the quality of bone in the hips and the lumbar, or lower, spine. Those areas are common sites for fracture in older women who have osteoporosis. In osteoporosis, bones lose mineral density and become brittle.

girls smokingTo examine the effects of smoking, depression, and anxiety on bone mineral density (BMD), the researchers involved 262 girls ranging in age from 11 to 19 years old. Over the course of three years, the girls underwent annual clinical exams and had their total body bone mineral content and bone mineral density measured with dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. The girls were asked if they had any symptoms of depression or anxiety. Their smoking levels were also monitored.

Although all the girls, regardless of how much they smoked, entered adolescence with equivalent levels of BMD, this scenario gradually changed. Over time, the girls who smoked frequently were found to have a lower rate of lumbar spine and total hip bone mineral density than those who smoked less. The researchers added that even relatively low levels of smoking might cause a negative effect on bone accrual.

More significant symptoms of depression were also associated with lower bone mineral density in the lumbar spine among girls in all age groups. Meanwhile, anxiety levels did not affect BMD

Since the findings from this study may not apply to all teenage girls, the researchers noted that additional research was still needed. But at least, the study may provide another health reason why smoking is not good.

The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health (December 4, 2012).





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