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Smoking Increases Osteoporosis Risk

ype of bone called cortical bone. This very dense bone forms a layer, similar to the enamel on teeth, around softer, spongy bone. Lorentzon and colleagues found that smoking reduces the thickness of cortical bone. The findings indicate that smoking may significantly affect bone strength. ‘If you think of bone as a pencil, then the thicker the pencil the harder it will be to break,’ said Lorentzon.

Mr. OS--Sweden

In a separate study, Center for Bone Research colleagues Dan Mellstr?m and co-workers have been measuring how a variety of lifestyle and biological factors influence the likelihood of bone fracture in elderly men (see conference Abstract No. P117). Mr. OS, as it is called, is being conducted internationally. Mellstr?m and colleagues have recruited over 3,000 elderly men for the Swedish part of the study and correlated smoking history with bone density measurements and fracture incidence. ‘We find that in elderly men a history of smoking is associated with weak bones and almost a twofold increase in vertebral fracture incidence,’ said Mellstr?m, who presented the data this week in Toronto. Vertebral fractures are a major sign of osteoporosis and a strong predictor of future fractures.

Mellstr?m and colleagues took X-rays of the neck and back spine in over 1,300 men to screen for vertebral fractures--these fractures are often asymptomatic and go undetected. They found that nearly 17 percent of the men had an identifiable vertebral fracture, but when they compared fracture rate to smoking history they found that 24% of smokers had fractures compared to only 14% or those who never smoked. They also measured bone mineral density in the hip, thigh bone, and spine. Mellstr?m reported that bone density in all regions tested was significantly lower in men who were current smokers, or who used to smoke. Overall the findings suggest that smoking reduces bone strength and dramatically increases the risk for bone fractures.

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