Brittle bones – The high cost of men who smoke


Weak, brittle bones, commonly referred to as osteoporosis, affect around 10 million adults age 50 and older living in the United States. Women are the predominant victims of this disease. However, more studies are showing that men, too, can become an osteoporosis statistic, and it’s not because they neglect drinking milk – instead blame it on smoking cigarettes. 

The price of anyone who smokes – men or women – is high. That’s because the health risk of smoking cigarettes is considered one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the United States. These health risks include increasing cancer, especially in the lung, mouth, throat, and esophagus, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and causing fertility issues in both men and women. 

Many may not realize that researchers continue to find links between smoking and the development of weak, brittle bones or osteoporosis. Men are particularly vulnerable since the latest data (2020) from the CDC found that men over age 18, who reported cigarette use either ‘every day’ or ‘some days,’ is 16.7% of adults living in the U.S. compared to 13.6%  of adult women. And now, there is one more health risk of smoking men can add to this list – brittle, weak bones. 

Past research has found that men have always led women when it comes to a higher risk of health problems related to smoking. Now, a meta-analysis of 27 studies conducted by researchers from the University of Nevada and published in Nature has found that smoking can also result in causing men to have a 37% higher risk of breaking a bone than women. 

Brittle or weak bones are a major sign of osteoporosis. Unfortunately, osteoporosis is often a silent disease. Few of us will know if our bones are weak unless we break a bone during a fall or other traumatic injury. The condition can be found when x-rays are needed to repair a broken bone, and doctors can see extensive weakening and thinning of bone mass. 

Why would smoking weaken bones? 

While it’s not entirely understood why smoking cigarettes increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, there are certain factors ways smoking affects the musculoskeletal health of men. They are as follows:

  • Smokers tend to have thinner frames, poor diets, and a sedentary lifestyle, all contributing factors to osteoporosis.
  • Studies have shown that older people who smoke are 30% to 40% more likely to fracture a hip.
  • Smoking negatively affects the circulatory system along with bone and cartilage health. This increases a person’s risk of osteoarthritis, leading to pain and disability and discouraging physical activity.
  • Nicotine in cigarettes, including gum, patches, and vape juice, are the single most significant risk factors for rotator cuff tears. 
  • Smoking is linked to low back pain. In addition, cigarettes reduce the flow of blood and nutrients to spinal discs, and people who smoke usually eat poorly and exercise less often.
  • Chemicals in cigarettes negatively impact bone cells and reduce the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D and calcium.  Both are critical nutrients for building and maintaining strong bone mass. 
  • Nicotine interferes with tissue repair, making the body more susceptible to wounds and inhibiting the healing of fractures. 

Takeaway message

The single preventable cause of disease, disability, and death, is never to start smoking. Even if a person has been smoking for years, there is still time to reverse some of the damage. 

Men, who smoke, should strongly consider quitting to help improve their overall health. But the habit is hard to break and often requires extensive help. For more information on quitting smoking, see this link.


Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911. 

Brittle bones – The high cost of men who smoke
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Dr. David B. Samadi

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Dr. David B. Samadi