Teenage girls who smoke may put themselves at risk for osteoporosis

Adolescent girls who smoke between the ages of 11 and 19 years may be putting themselves at increased risk for osteoporosis in older age, suggest study results.

The authors explain that crucial bone accrual occurs during adolescence and smoking seems to slow the rate of this build up, potentially leading to lower maximum bone mineral density (BMD) in young women who smoke.

By contrast, alcohol consumption and symptoms of depression did not appear to influence overall bone accrual long term.

"Osteoporosis is a costly health problem affecting an estimated 10 million Americans, with an additional 34 million considered at risk," said study author Lorah Dorn (University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) in a press statement.

Commenting on the importance of the findings, she explained that "as much bone is accrued in the two years surrounding a girl's first menstrual cycle as is lost in the last four decades of life."

As reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Dorn and colleagues recruited 262 healthy girls between the age of 11 and 19 years. Approximately equal numbers of 11, 13, 15, and 17 year olds were enrolled and were seen by researchers at three annual visits.

Total body bone mineral content, as well as total hip and lumbar spine BMD, were measured at each visit. Dorn and co-workers found that girls with a higher frequency of smoking (all 30 days in past month) had a significantly lower rate of lumbar spine and total hip BMD accrual between the age of 13 and 19 than those who smoked less (6-9 days in past month, or nonsmokers).

There appeared to be an inverse correlation between smoking frequency, age, and BMD accrual, such that as the girls got older and smoked more, their rate of BMD accrual decreased.

There was some impact of depressive symptoms on lower lumbar spine BMD, with more symptoms correlating with lower BMD between the age of 11 and 19 years, but not for any other bone mineral measures.

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