Smoking can negatively affect bone density and put you at risk of osteoporosis. Taking steps to quit smoking can improve your bone health and reduce your risk of bone fractures.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that results in decreased bone mass and density. People with osteoporosis are at an increased risk of bone fractures.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), osteoporosis affects over 10 million people in the United States.

Certain medical conditions like hyperthyroidism or the use of certain medications may cause osteoporosis. But other risk factors such as age, a diet low in calcium, or smoking may contribute to osteoporosis.

Smoking can increase your likelihood of osteoporosis because of its effect on your hormones and bone cells. Quitting smoking, exercising, and taking medications can help reverse these effects.

Smoking can negatively affect how your bone cells function, contributing to osteoporosis. The ways smoking can affect your bones include:

  • reducing the amount of blood traveling to bones and other body tissues. This may lead to bone loss because smoking blocks the function of bone-forming cells and increases bone resorption.
  • inhibiting calcium and vitamin D absorption, which are essential for bone health
  • interfering with hormones that play a role in skeletal health. For example, nicotine can decrease estrogen levels, leading to increased bone resorption.
  • increasing bone resorption and leading to lower bone mas

Smoking has also been shown to raise individuals’ cortisol levels as well as the level of free radicals in the body.

In addition to these indirect effects, the nicotine in cigarettes directly affects osteoblasts, or your bone-forming cells. Nicotine binds to the receptors in osteoblast cells in such a way that it lowers their ability to function.

Even if you don’t smoke, your bones may be affected if you’re surrounded by cigarette smoke. Studies on animals indicate that secondhand smoke can have an effect on bone formation and increase the risk of osteoporosis.

More research is necessary in the future to address the many remaining questions about how smoking increases the risk of osteoporosis.

Research indicates that quitting smoking does improve bone health. Bone density in people who used to smoke appears to improve in less than 10 years.

In fact, women who have gone through menopause and stopped smoking may experience better bone formation in 6 weeks and improvement in bone density in less than a year.

Tips for quitting smoking

If you’re struggling to quit smoking, it may help to:

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If you have osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend:

Certain risk factors for osteoporosis such as age, sex, and family history are not changeable. But some things you can do to help prevent osteoporosis include:

Smoking is a risk factor for osteoporosis. It can affect your hormones, nutrient absorption, and the cells involved in bone tissue formation. You’re at a greater risk of fractures when you have lower bone density.

Your bone health can improve if you quit smoking. You can also improve your bone density by exercising, taking prescribed medications, and increasing the amount of vitamin D and calcium in your diet.

It’s important to discuss your bone health with your doctor if you have risk factors for osteoporosis. They can also offer resources to help you stop smoking.