This Bad Habit Is Bad on Your Bones

This Bad Habit Is Bad on Your Bones

The series Mad Men was all too accurate on one count: In 1955 almost 57 percent of men and 30 percent of women smoked cigarettes! Fortunately, those numbers are down to around 18 percent of the population these days—and fewer and fewer kids and teens are even trying cigars or cigarettes, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey. However, Big Tobacco, which owns many e-cig companies, is trying to hook teens on vaping.

But for folks who smoke cigarettes, the news about the damage it does is evermore alarming. Not only does smoking trigger COPD and lung cancer, lead to heart attack, stroke and increase chronic back pain, it doubles the risk of osteoporosis-related bone fractures. And older smokers tumble more often than nonsmokers (poorer neuromuscular control) and that causes breaks too. For women there’s a five-fold and for men an eight-fold increase in the risk of death from any cause during the three months post-break.

 As if that weren’t upsetting enough, according to a new study in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, smoking alters your DNA—some of it for up to 30 years after you stop smoking. And those changes continue your increased risk for heart disease and cancer.

But even though some risks persist, quitting smoking will make you healthier immediately—some smoking-altered DNA returns to “never smoked” levels in five years! So, for help quitting, check out and search for smoking cessation. You can also visit or call the American Cancer Society's Quitline at 800-227-2345.

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

Why Does Osteoporosis Matter?
Why Does Osteoporosis Matter?
Osteoporosis is the weakening of bones, which can lead to painful spine fractures, a broken wrist, or hip breaks. It's most common among people age 65...
Read More
How common is osteoporosis?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
In the United States about 10 million people have osteoporosis of those four-fifths are women. More ...
More Answers
5 Common Osteoporosis Myths, Debunked
5 Common Osteoporosis Myths, Debunked5 Common Osteoporosis Myths, Debunked5 Common Osteoporosis Myths, Debunked5 Common Osteoporosis Myths, Debunked
Get the facts and learn how to protect your bone health.
Start Slideshow
Should You Be Tested for Celiac Disease?
Should You Be Tested for Celiac Disease?