Osteoporosis Risk Factors ? Heavy Smoking and Drinking Specially for Women

Lifestyle factors contribute significantly in depleting bone health in urban women. Not only that, smoking and alcohol consumption in young age can increase the risk of bone injuries in future.

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 dwellers with increased risk of fractures are suffering from poor bone health, low bone density, and early onset of osteoporosis.

Doctors at Columbia Asia Hospitals, Ghaziabad say the incidence of osteoporosis or osteopenia 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 makes urban Indians prone to early osteoporosis including low intake of dietary calcium, low sun exposure, lack of physical exercise and sedentary lifestyle. Moreover, bad habits like smoking and drinking are spreading like an epidemic in urban women too.


Tobacco consumption in any form 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. The healing rate of fractured bones is much lower in smokers,” says Dr Rajesh Kumar Verma, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad.

Smoking Is the Root Cause?

A recent meta-analysis (acknowledged by WHO) concludes that roughly one in eight hip fractures can be attributed to cigarette smoking. Besides, in the 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.

Bone Loss In Women

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.

“Excessive alcohol intake also interrupts the absorption of calcium and vitamin D in the bones. It also suppresses osteoblast cells, essential for bone remodelling. Finally, it must be said that chronic heavy drinking, especially during early adulthood, can dramatically compromise bone quality and increase the risk of osteoporosis,” says Dr Rajesh Kumar Verma, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad.

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


Image via http://www.tbo.com

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 also common in women who face rapid depletion of bone minerals after menopause.


Lead image via Khoobsurati.com




  1. Rohit Verma

    Great work !! Thanks a lot for highlighting risk factors.
    Lifestyles of people have changed & some of outcomes are not pleasant. Irrespective of gender, smoking & drinking is not only dangerous for the person itself but also for society in which we are living today. Quit smoking & drinking as soon as you can.


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