Okay, this is for those of you who are still smoking. (You know who you are!)
Actually, it is also for those of us who have quit. It simply gives us another reason to feel superior!!
You’ve heard of Osteoporosis? Bone loss to the point that activities are severely restricted, due to a horrible and probably quite accurate fear of falling and breaking something? We have all seen the pathetic little bird-like women with hunched backs, walking slowly and gingerly through their lives.
(My apologies to any pathetic little bird-like women with hunched backs out there, but I’m trying to make a point here.)
Anyway, turns out that smoking can have a disastrous effect on bone growth and bone loss! Bone mass is built in the first 30 years of our lives. It therefore stands to reason that smoking prior to age 30 will result in a weaker skeletal structure. If you are at all subject to osteoporosis, early smoking will almost guarantee that it is in your future.
After age 30, smoking upsets the balance of hormones such as estrogen that are essential for bone strength. Women in their 40s and 50s lose estrogen anyway, but smoking severely accelerates the process. Smoking induces your liver to produce more enzymes that destroy estrogen, further decreasing bone density. As a woman enters her menopausal years, smoking again speeds up the process of bone loss.
Smoking increases levels of cortisol, a hormone that leads to bone breakdown. Conversely, smoking reduces the hormone calcitonin, which helps to build bones. Nicotine and the free radicals produced by smoking kills osteoblasts, the bone-making cells. Smoking damages blood vessels and oxygen supply, so smokers that break bones don’t heal well.
Reduced blood oxygen supply also damages nerves in the toes and feet, which leads to even more falls and fractures.
Don’t even get me started on smoking and COPD!