January 12, 2009

Another Dark Side of Lighting Up

Many discussions on the health effects of cigarette smoking leave out a very important fact -- it can speed up the development of osteoporosis.

Several studies -- here is one example -- have found a link between cigarette consumption and decreased bone density.

Although one could argue that it may be behaviors and lifestyle choices common in smokers (i.e.: lack of physical activity) and not cigarettes themselves that may be the actual cause, there is no denying that smoking in and itself has a detrimental effect on bone health.

Nicotine, for example, inhibits calcitonin, a hormone that inhibits the dissolution of bone tissue.

Additionally, the massive amounts of free radicals created by smoking decrease levels of estrogen, consequently accelerating bone loss in women.

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