Male smokers are more likely than women smokers to have osteoporosis and fractures of their vertebrae, a new study has found.
The large study of middle-aged to elderly smokers found that smoking history and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were independent risk factors for low bone density among both men and women.
While current smoking is a recognised risk factor for osteoporosis, neither smoking history nor COPD are among criteria for bone-density screening, researchers said.
“Our findings suggest that current and past smokers of both genders should be screened for osteoporosis,” said Elizabeth Regan, assistant professor of medicine at National Jewish Health in the US.
“Expanding screening to include men with a smoking history and starting treatment in those with bone disease may prevent fractures, improve quality of life and reduce health care costs,” Regan said.
The researchers evaluated 3,321 current and ex-smokers ages 45 to 80, with a minimum of 10 pack-years of smoking history using quantitative CT to assess bone density.
Overall, 11 per cent of the study participants had normal bone density, 31 per cent had intermediate bone density, and 58 per cent had low bone density. Thirty-seven per cent of the participants had one or more fractures of their vertebrae.
Men accounted for 55 per cent of the smokers with low bone density and 60 per cent of those with vertebral fractures.
Low-bone density increased in prevalence with worsening COPD, rising to 84 per cent among severe COPD patients of both genders.
The study was published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.