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The Bone-Chilling Truth about Cigarettes

“Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” It’s a good motto to live by unless you’re thinking about giving up cigarettes. November 17 marks The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, which is the perfect opportunity for smokers everywhere to see just how good it feels to quit!

The negative side effects of smoking are well-established. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, claiming 443,000 lives each year. Studies have linked smoking to various mental health issues, such as stress, anxiety and depression, but the physical side effects of smoking are even more severe. Individuals who smoke are at greater risk of developing heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lung disease, vision problems, and osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become weak, brittle and prone to fractures. More than 53 million Americans already have osteoporosis or are at increased risk due to low bone mass (Source: International Osteoporosis Foundation).

Cigarette smoking was first identified as a risk factor for osteoporosis over two decades ago. Since that time, research has continued to establish a direct link between tobacco use and bone loss. Nicotine and other toxic substances in cigarettes can damage bones by:

  • Inhibiting calcium absorption from dietary sources
  • Slowing the production of osteoblasts, the bone-forming cells responsible for growing new bone
  • Reducing blood supply to the bones
  • Accelerating the breakdown of estrogen, a fundamental hormone for healthy bones

If you are currently a smoker and you’ve thought about quitting, you are not alone. A recent government survey found that nearly 70 percent of smokers in the U.S. want to quit, and nearly half of them tried to quit last year. Unfortunately, a mere six percent of these individuals succeed (Source: Drugfree.org). These statistics are grim, but there is hope.

The Great American Smokeout is designed to help smokers kick the habit, even if it’s just for one day. With an assortment of support tools, programs and resources, you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips to begin your smoke-free journey. Giving up cigarettes is difficult, but it’s one significant step you can take towards a longer, happier, more fulfilling life. Let the Great American Smokeout inspire you to seize the day and turn your health into a success story.