Osteoporosis (“porous bone”) is a condition in which the bones weaken and become more likely to fracture. This serious health problem affects an estimated forty-four million people in the United States, sixty-eight percent of whom are women. It also costs our health system millions in health care expenditures and lost productivity. It is most common among post-menopausal women and affects caucasian women at higher rates than Latino or African American women. Women with a thin body frame, blonde hair and blue eyes are the most at risk for developing Osteoporosis.
Cigarette smoking was first linked to Osteoporosis over twenty years ago. Since then, a direct link between smoking and decreased bone density has been established. Additionally, studies have shown that the longer you smoke and the more cigarettes you consume, the greater your risk for fracture in old age. And, smokers who fracture may take longer to heal than non-smokers and are at a higher risk for developing complications during the healing process.
Osteoporosis is often referred to as a silent disease because many women are not aware that they have it until it causes them to fracture. For this reason, if you are at risk for Osteoporosis, your OBGYN or other healthcare provider may recommend that you get a bone mineral density test (DEXA scan). Depending on the results of your test, they may prescribe certain medications to slow the progression of the disease.
An increased risk for Osteoporosis is just one of the many good reasons to stop smoking. If you are a smoker, you are putting your bone health at risk. There are a variety of resources and organizations that are available to help you stop smoking, for good! Talk to your physician today about a safe and effective strategy for quitting smoking.