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Smoking, High Alcohol Consumption Increasing Incidence of Osteoporosis, say doctors at Columbia Asia Hospitals, Ahmedabad



World Osteoporosis Day

Smoking, High Alcohol Consumption Increasing Incidence of Osteoporosis, say doctors at Columbia Asia Hospitals, Ahmedabad

Lifestyle factors contribute significantly in depleting bone health in urban women

Too much smoking and alcohol consumption in young age can increase the risk of bone injuries in future

Ahmedabad, 19th Oct 2016: At 38 years of age, Pratima (name changed) believed she was too young to suffer from low bone density. However, after when she suffered a fracture in her arm after a minor fall, tests revealed she had osteoporosis of the level usually prevalent in women over 60!

Surprising as it may sound, Pratima is not an exception. A significant number of Indian women, especially in urban areas are suffering from poor bone health, low bone density, and early onset of osteoporosis.

Doctors at Columbia Asia Hospitals, Ahmedabad say the incidence of osteoporosis or Ostopenia. in women under 50 has markedly increased over the past 20 years. Bone loss is a silent condition which generally occurs slowly over a long period. A range of factors are making urban Indians prone to early osteoporosis including low intake of calcium, low sun exposure, lack of physical exercise and sedentary habits. However, among the most worrisome factors among women are increase in smoking and alcohol consumption.

Tobacco smoking has a series of negative repercussions on health. While increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease is the most talked about, we often tend to overlook the ill effect of smoking on the bones. At the same time, alcohol consumption also interferes with calcium and vitamin D absorption in the body.

“Osteoporosis may be linked to multiple risk factors. Smoking is an important factor depleting bone health in women today. Firstly, the toxic components of smoke upset the hormonal balance in the body, particularly affecting estrogen production. This is a major cause of bone loss. Moreover, smoking women are most of the times unable to absorb calcium efficiently from their diet. Also, the healing rate of fractured bones is much lower in smokers,” says Dr. Kartik Shukla Orthopedic Surgeon , Joint Replacement Surgeon, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ahmedabad.

A recent meta-analysis (acknowledged by WHO) concludes that roughly one in eight hip fractures can be attributed to cigarette smoking. Besides, in case of a bone injury, a person who smokes is more likely to have a longer period of recovery and greater risk of complication, say doctors.

“Smoking during the years of bone-building puts you at risk of osteoporosis in later stage. Smoking after 30 will speed up loss of bone mass almost twice as faster. Your whole body will lose bone mass, but hip, spine, and wrist are the most affected areas in general. The shocking part is inhaling second-hand smoke affects your bones in the same way,” adds says Dr. Kartik Shukla Orthopedic Surgeon, Joint Replacement Surgeon, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ahmedabad.

While the rate of bone loss increases in both men and women after the age of 30. In women, this process is further accelerated after menopause. Hence, healthy bones are dependent on the development of a strong bone structure during the younger years. Studies suggest that too much alcohol consumption can interfere with bone development and bone remodeling process, resulting in decreased bone density.

“Excessive alcohol consumption also interrupts the absorption of calcium and vitamin D in the bones. It also suppresses osteoblast cells, essential for bone remodeling. Finally, it must be said that chronic heavy drinking especially in during young adulthood can dramatically compromise bone quality and increase risk of osteoporosis,” says says Dr. Kartik Shukla Orthopedic Surgeon , Joint Replacement Surgeon, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ahmedabad.

Clinical evidence suggests a downward shift in the age threshold of osteoporosis in India. However, it is important to note that lifestyle-related factors are all modifiable and can be overcome with a little willpower. If you care for your bone health and overall well-being, give up smoking today and limit your alcohol consumption.

Understanding Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is usually an age-related loss of bone mineral density that makes bones weak and prone to fractures, so that even a mild fall or injury may result in a fracture. However, even younger people may fall prey to brittle bone syndrome if they have insufficient calcium intake or have been smoking or consuming alcohol over a long time. The condition is more common in women who face rapid depletion of bone minerals after menopause.

Osteoporosis is calculated by comparing the bone mineral density (BMD) of the patient with that of a normal person, as per the criteria set by WHO. As per set criteria, a standardized score called, T-score is used to determine the condition.