Smoking in teenage girls is associated with slower development of bone mineral density, a new study reports.
The scientists studied 262 healthy girls ages 11 to 19, using questionnaires and interviews to assess their smoking habits. The researchers also measured the girlsâ€™ bone density at the hip and lumbar spine three times at one-year intervals.
Smokers entered adolescence with the same lumbar and hip bone density as nonsmokers, but by age 19, they were about a year behind on average. After adjusting for other factors that affect bone health â€“ height, weight, hormonal contraceptive use and more â€“ the researchers found that even relatively low or irregular rates of smoking were independently associated with lower bone density.
The study, published last week in The Journal of Adolescent Health, used a sample that fell below national averages for calcium intake and physical activity, so the results may not be generalizable to wider populations.
The lead author, Lorah D. Dorn, a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Childrenâ€™s Hospital, pointed out that this is only one study and that more research is needed. Still, she said, â€œIt tells me that for care providers â€“ clinicians and parents â€“ this needs to be something theyâ€™re vigilant about.â€