‘Smoking is injurious to health,’ reads every box of cigarettes. But are we really paying heed to it? Do we understand how it impacts different organs in our body and how deadly it can be as we age? While most of us are aware of the health challenges posed by smoking - how it exposes us to certain cancers and grievously affects our respiratory, cardiovascular and oral health, many remain uninformed about its negative impact on the bones. Recently, Dr Manan Vora, a Sports Medicine Doctor and an influencer, took to Instagram to not only educate his viewers about how smoking affects bone health but to also urge smokers to quit this unhealthy habit.
Also Read: Signs Of Brittle Bones In Women: Here’s How To Prevent It
How Does Smoking Affect Your Bone Health?
There are several risk factors for decreasing bone density and bone-related issues, such as osteoporosis. These include low physical activity, ageing, alcohol consumption, smoking and changes in hormones. However, when we particularly talk of smoking as a major risk factor, there are several ways in which it can affect bone health. In the Instagram reel, Dr Vora lists down some of the effects smoking has on our bones, based on research.
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Effect of smoking on hormones
Smoking has a major effect on the balance of hormones, including oestrogen, integral to building and maintaining strong bones and a healthy skeletal system. According to Dr Vora, “Smoking impedes the hormone calcitonin, which helps build bones.” Calcitonin, produced by the C-cells in the thyroid gland, is a hormone that helps regulate calcium levels in the blood. It works towards blocking the functions of osteoclasts that usually break down bones.
In addition, smoking increases the hormone cortisol, which can cause the breakdown of the bones. Research has found that elevated levels of cortisol, also known as stress hormones, can disrupt the formation of osteoblasts, which are necessary for bone formation.
Lastly, one of the most important hormones for effective bone-building is oestrogen. Research has found that oestrogen helps in the growth and maturation of bone as well as in the regulation of bone turnover in adult bone. This is why oestrogen deficiency is said to cause early and late forms of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and plays a part in the development of osteoporosis in elderly men, as per research.
Also Read: How Banana Tea Can Improve Your Health: From Strong Bones To Healthy Heart
Impact of smoking on blood vessels
Smoking damages blood vessels, restricting blood supply to several parts of the body including the bones. It restricts oxygen and important nutrients to reach their target organs and thus hampering healthy bodily functions. This can weaken the bones and make them more prone to injuries and fractures.
The ill-effects of nicotine and toxins in cigarettes
Nicotine is a toxic substance present in tobacco, which constricts blood vessels, restricting blood flow and depriving different parts of the body, including bones, of receiving oxygen and nutrients. This can not only weaken bones and make them more susceptible to injuries and fractures but can also slow down the healing process in the body.
Tips To Improve Bone Health
Ageing, a family history of bone disease, sex, size and hormone levels are some of the major risk factors for poor bone health. In addition, certain lifestyle choices may also influence your risk of bone problems. These include smoking, alcohol consumption, low physical activity and diet. Having said that, taking necessary steps and developing health habits can eliminate or decrease your risk of such issues. Here’s what you can do:
- Include vitamin D and calcium-rich foods in your diet
- Regular exercise is key
- Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake
- Maintain a healthy weight
In order to maintain your bone health, it is important to identify your risk factors. Make healthy lifestyle choices so as to minimise any risk of bone problems in the future. Along with your regular health checkups, make sure to visit an orthopaedic to get your bone health measured and mapped.