One of the biggest health hazards in today’s times is smoking. It is no news that smoking has been proven to cause life-threatening health issues such as lung cancer, heart disease, COPD, asthma and low-birth weight in babies. According to WHO, every year, there are 8 million deaths attributed to smoking-related diseases of which more than 7 million are due to active intake and around 1.2 million due to passive smoking.
According to researchers at Oxford university smoking cuts life expectancy by 10 years. Further, the risk you die from lung cancer before the age of 65 is 22.1% in the case of a male smoker, whereas 11.9% for a female chain smoker in the absence of other causes of death.
But did you know, smoking can have a serious impact on your bones? Increasing evidence has emerged over the years that shows tobacco exposure, both directly and passively, has been shown to have a detrimental effect on the musculoskeletal system.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the USA, evidence shows that:
- The longer you smoke and the more cigarettes you consume, the greater your risk of fracture in old age
- Older women and men who smoke experience significant bone loss
- Smokers who fracture tend to take longer to heal than non-smokers and they may experience more complications during the healing process
- Exposure to passive smoking during youth and early adulthood may interfere with healthy bone growth and development, and continues to affect bone health in your 40s and 50s
Fracture risk is higher in smokers, especially with increasing age
The effects of smoking in decreasing bone mineral density comes from various studies which concluded that, around 1/8th of hip fractures may result from cigarette smoking.
The study showed that smokers lose bone at faster rate than non-smokers, and by age 80 this can translate into 6% lower bone mineral density and greater fracture risk. Hip fracture risk among smokers, vis-à-vis non-smokers, is greater in all age brackets but rises from 17% greater at 60yrs of age to 71% at 80.
A recent study finding suggested that male smokers had a small, but significantly greater risk of low bone density and more vertebral fractures, than female smokers.
Increased osteoporosis and fracture risk in smokers
Nicotine and other toxic substances in cigarettes trigger bone-damaging changes in the following ways:
- Reducing the blood supply to bones
- Slowing the production of bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) so that they make less bone
- Decreasing the absorption of calcium from the diet
- Breaking down estrogen in the body more quickly. Estrogen is important to build and maintain a strong skeleton
People who smoke face an increased risk for other musculoskeletal problems including increased chronic pain in the neck and lower back; increased rotator cuff tears and shoulder dysfunction with lower healing rates and poorer outcomes following rotator cuff repair. Smokers also have a higher risk of suffering from inflammatory, auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
TIPS TO KEEP YOUR BONES HEALTHY
 Start by quitting– According to the National Institutes of Health, smoking cessation, even later in life, may help limit smoking-related bone loss
 Substitution strategy- A good way to reduce the urge for smoking is to substitute it with some other activity like having a chocolate or a fruit to divert the attention and reduce the craving
 Eat a well-balanced diet- Rich in calcium and Vitamin D and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol
 Exercise to build bone strength- To reduce your risk of falls involve a combination of strength, balance and endurance training which include strength training exercises using your body weight, flexibility exercises, tai chi, walking, low-impact dancing, low-impact aerobics, stair climbing, cross-training machines
YOGA EXERCISES TO BUILD BONE STRENGTH
VEERBHADRASANA (WARRIOR POSE)
The Warrior pose is a knee strengthening yoga pose that also helps people suffering from frozen shoulders. It also releases stress from the shoulders and brings balance in the body. Practicing this exercise will improve your body posture in the long run.
DHANURASANA (BOW POSE)
The Bow pose opens the shoulders and relieves them of ache. If you’re dealing with stiffness of the body and constant stress and fatigue, this yoga pose is your best bet.
SETUBANDHASANA (BRIDGE POSE)
The Bridge pose helps strengthen muscles in the knee joint and is also helpful for those suffering from osteoporosis. The increased blood flow and flexibility achieved through this yoga pose also calms the brain and reduces anxiety and stress in the body.
TRIKONASANA (TRIANGLE POSE)
The Triangle pose strengthens the legs, knees and ankles. It also stretches and opens the hamstrings, groin and hips. This yoga pose is the best exercise to get rid of sciatica and back pain.
USTRASANA( CAMEL POSE)
An effective back pain exercise and shoulder strengthening yoga pose, Ustrasana also improves flexibility of the spine, improves posture and relieves the body of lower back ache and rigidness.
MAKARA ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA (DOLPHIN-PLANK POSE)
The Dolphin Plank pose helps stretches the shoulders and hamstrings. It also strengthens the wrists, arms and legs while relieving the body of lifatigue and back ache. This yoga posture also helps prevent osteoporosis.
Summing it up:
Good bone health needs a consistent healthy lifestyle pattern like eating well, exercising, maintaining a regular sleep cycle, and avoiding stress as much as possible to keep up with a healthy routine.
Here’s to the health of your bones!
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Hordaland Health Study
Stanford Health Care
National Institute of Health
The Orthopaedic Institute
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