Most people are well aware that smoking is an unhealthy habit. We have been warned about the risks of cancer and emphysema for years. It is a habit that has long lost its cool element and smokers are now treated as outcasts at restaurants and public events. Quitting smoking is not only good for attaining healthy lungs, smoking cessation helps prevent osteoporosis. This is relatively new information as anti-smoking campaigns have generally focused on preventing lung disease.
Osteoporosis occurs when the bones become low in density. It usually occurs in women older than 50. Bone density can be monitored by checking the amount of calcium and minerals present in the bone mass. If the density is of low quality, the bones become fragile and are prone to fractures. Smoking, heavy use of alcohol, and lack of exercise join the forces of old age and put the body at risk. The bones become unable to repair themselves and prevent new bone growth from taking place. While age is a key reason for osteoporosis, a person’s frame size and family medical history is also to blame. It affects mostly white and Asian women.
Smoking and bone health are related as the toxins from a cigarette produce free radicals in the body and can affect bones as well as vital organs. Free radicals can cause a chain reaction that results in bone breakdown and hormonal imbalance. Hormones are prime when it comes to the body working efficiently. The lack of estrogen, especially in post menopausal women, combined with excessive amounts of cortisol and thyroid hormone can lead to low bone density causing osteoporosis. The thyroid gland, located as the base of the throat is responsible for growth, metabolism and overall energy. It can be greatly affected by smoking. When it becomes diseased, it can produce elevated hormone levels which play havoc in the overall body.
The human skeleton continues to grow and form bone mass until around age 30. Teenage smoking and beyond has already done damage to bone health by that time and is not easily restored. As the person matures, particularly the female, bones continue to weaken and can actually form holes within the bone. With reduced oxygen levels, due to smoking, blood supply is compromised. All of these factors combined hinder the natural repair of bones, as well as muscles.
Smoking is an enjoyable activity for some but can quickly become an addiction. Even as smokers know the consequences, it is worth the risk to many. The habit is difficult to break and takes a willing change in one’s life. Smokers can still do good for themselves by exercising, eating right and maintaining enough calcium and Vitamin D in their diets. As smoking cessation helps prevent osteoporosis, all women should pay attention to their hormone levels, eat right and keep moving. The sad look of the disease is one of hunched shoulders and a crumpled spine. Recommended treatment of osteoporosis is provided by doctors in the form of bisphosphonate therapy. Prescriptions and injections have helped many women stave off the further advancement of the disease. Quitting smoking is beneficial in many ways. Healthy lungs and a good back bone help provide for a strong, happy life.
Written by: Roanne H. FitzGibbon