Kicking the habit increases bone density

March 1, 2007

It's never too late to quit smoking when it comes to bone density, according to a recent prospective study of postmenopausal women. And it doesn't take long for benefits to begin to accrue.

It's never too late to quit smoking when it comes to bone density, according to a recent prospective study of postmenopausal women. And it doesn't take long for benefits to begin to accrue.

Researchers assigned 152 women who smoked at least 10 cigarettes per day to behavior counseling and either a placebo or nicotine patch (3-month treatment with 1-month taper).

Those who quit for 1 year increased the BMD of their femoral trochanter and hip by an average of 2.9% and 1.52%, respectively, versus 0.6% (P=0.02) and 0.43% (P=0.03), respectively, in those who continued smoking. The quitters also increased their bone alkaline phosphatase levels. Unfortunately, no significant changes were noted at the femoral neck, radius, spine, or in total body calculations, and the effects, though encouraging, were partially mediated by weight gain.