Alcohol and Tobacco: Two BIG Osteoporosis No-Nos

  • If you are a habitual smoker and/or drinker, then look yourself in the mirror and say "(your full name), your bones deserve better than this." Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol are two big no-no's if you have or want to prevent osteoporosis. When it comes to tobacco products, everybody hears about lung disease and cancer. When it comes to libations, everybody hears about liver disease and car wrecks. But nobody talks about a silent victim of these addictive habits, the bones. The use of one or both of these harmful chemicals on a regular basis severely impacts the bone health and greatly increases the risk of fractures.

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    Bone health is ultimately a product of bone cell (osteocyte) health. The osteocytes are divided into two categories. The bone makers are called the osteoblasts. The bone re-shapers are called the osteoclasts. Both types of bone cells are harmed by smoking tobacco and consumption of alcohol. When these cells do not work properly or are not working in a concerted effort, the continual process of bone remodeling is thrown out of balance. Too much bone might be reabsorbed while not enough bone is being made. This scenario explains why both smokers and drinkers have lower bone density scores.


    A low bone density score may not be alarming by itself. However, a higher risk of fractures is very alarming. Smokers have a much higher risk of developing a bone fracture compared with non-smokers. Alcohol use is also considered a fracture risk when looking at the Fracture Risk Assessment Score (FRAX). And as if this information is not alarming enough, the regular use of alcohol or tobacco greatly impairs the ability for the bone to heal because those little bone makers and re-shapers do not work well under the circumstances. Smokers and drinkers should be very worried about the risk of bone fractures coupled with the inability to heal.


    Poor bone health and an increased risk of fractures might be just enough reason to motivate you to change your habits since lung and liver damage seemingly has not. The addiction to tobacco or alcohol is worth kicking for bone's sake. If you do quit, the bone cells will eventually start making enough bone to keep up with the absorption process. If you do quit, years down the road you may not fall and break your back or hip. And even if you do break a bone, you will heal faster. These "if's" may not amount to much motivation for you as you look at yourself in the mirror and wonder, "Why should I change now? So what if I get a fracture? The doctors can put me back together." This careless attitude will eventually bite your "humpty-dumpty" butt and then you'll be saying to yourself, "Why didn't I take better care of myself and my bones?" Do not let your bones be the silent victim of your life-style habits. When you go to your mirror and ask, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the healthiest bones of them all?" You want the answer to be you.


Published On: October 05, 2011