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Second-hand Smoke, Osteoporosis Linked

Second-hand Smoke, Osteoporosis LinkedWomen exposed to passive smoke have a greater risk of low bone density - a major risk factor for osteoporosis - say Tufts researchers.

Boston [08.22.02] The health risks associated with second-hand smoke - which already include asthma, heart disease, cancer and even tooth decay - continue to rise. According to new research by leading experts at Tufts, women exposed to passive smoke are at greater risk of low bone density - a major contributor to osteoporosis.

While researchers have studied active smokers' risks for the disease - which affects over 10 million Americans - "little information is available about the impact of exposure to passive tobacco smoke on bone mass," Tufts' Miriam Blum - a researcher at Tufts' School of Medicine and the USDA's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts [HNRC] - wrote in the journal Osteoporosis International.

The Tufts study, according to Blum, may be the first to offer evidence that early exposure to second-hand smoke has a long term impact on adult bone density, which can ultimately lead to the development of osteoporosis.

"Healthy premenopausal women, who were exposed to household tobacco smoke during adolescence and young adulthood, are at risk of having lower than normal bone mineral density," reported an article in The Doctor's Guide - a web-based news site focused on newly published medical research. "Subjects exposed to household tobacco smoke had a mean adjusted bone mineral density that was significantly lower at the total hip and femoral neck than the unexposed."

The longer the exposure, the lower the bone density, reported the Tufts team.

With nearly 44 million Americans at risk for osteoporosis, the disease is most common among adults over the age of 50. Osteoporosis causes 1.5 million fractures every year and is responsible for $17 billion in related health care costs every year.

Blum's study, which focused on 154 healthy women between 40 and 45 years old, was conducted in the Calcium and Bone Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts' HNRC - which has a national reputation for producing leading research in the field.

The lab's chief director -- Bess Dawson-Hughes -- is a nationally renowned expert on calcium and bone density and was recently named the President of the National Osteoporosis Foundation's Board of Directors.


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