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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 my.clevelandclinic.org and search for smoking cessation. You can also visit www.smokefree.gov or call the American Cancer Society's Quitline at 800-227-2345.

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

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