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How vaping can weaken your bones

26 / 07 / 23

Over the last decade, vaping, referring to the use of electronic cigarettes, has become an increasingly popular alternative to smoking. Although introduced as a healthier and safer alternative to tobacco, research has suggested there are still many risks associated with the product. 

The impact on the respiratory system is well documented, however, the effect on bone health has been overlooked. We have already discussed the effect of tobacco-based cigarette smoking here on bone healing, however, this blog will discuss some potential risk factors and results of vaping on bone health, exploring the dangers hidden within. 

What is vaping?

‘Vaping’ is the term used to describe the inhalation of aerosolized nicotine in the form of vapour from an electronic cigarette (or e-cigarette/vape pen). The device uses flavoured liquids containing nicotine and other chemicals, that are heated via a coil and inhaled.

E-cigarettes were first introduced and marketed as a better alternative to tobacco cigarettes, designed to encourage users to quit smoking. However, there has been a recent surge in disposable vape pens, readily available for purchase in shops and online. This has led to an increase in use by the younger generation, despite being an over-18 product.

Research has already discovered some potential health risks, such as a higher risk of developing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), however, vaping can also pose a risk to bone health.

variety-of-vape-pens

Bone Health

Our bones are an integral component of our bodies, providing structure, stability, and protection, but also a storage place for essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium. 

Throughout our lives, our bones are ever-changing, breaking down old bone and replacing it with new bone. Our bodies do this using cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts that help your bones grow and become stronger. Osteoclasts are responsible for the dissolving and reabsorption of old bone, making space for new bone. Osteoblasts on the other hand help form new bone and strengthen existing bone. They are triggered by hormones and chemical reactions to secrete proteins into your bone’s matrix. 

For young people, new bone is created at a quicker rate than older bone is broken down and hits peak bone density at around 30 years old. From here, we start to lose slightly more bone mass than we gain. This fact shows the importance of bone health, especially at a young age, ensuring we develop as much bone mass as possible before the process starts to reverse. As we become older, bone health again is extremely important, as the likelihood of developing bone-related conditions, such as osteoporosis, increases. 

Impact of vaping on bone health

  1. Effects of nicotine on bone density – nicotine is the primary addictive substance in e-cigarettes, and research has shown it may link to a reduced viability and function of your bones osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Osteoclasts are your cells involved in the breakdown process of old bone, whereas osteoblasts are cells responsible for the remodelling of new bone. Research has suggested that the involvement of nicotine may inhibit the ability of osteoblasts to create new bone, resulting in decreased bone density, and ultimately exposing you to a greater risk of bone fractures. 
  2. Disruption of vitamins and minerals uptake – your bones need essential nutrients and minerals in order to retain strength and mass. This includes calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Studies have proposed that smoking interferes with the uptake of these essentials, which in turn reduces the ability to maintain skeletal strength. Once again, this imposes a risk to those who smoke e-cigarettes, increasing susceptibility to fractures and other bone-related conditions due to weakened bones.
  3. Inflammation – vaping is linked to an increase in inflammation throughout the body, which, if it becomes chronic, can cause various issues including a loss of bone density. High levels of inflammation can interfere with bone formation, similarly to nicotine, resulting in weakened bones over prolonged use, further contributing to bone-related problems such as fractures and osteoporosis.
  4. Interference with youth bone development – before turning the age of 30, it is a highly important and critical period for our bone development. This period is where we develop the most bone mass, which we will only begin to lose as we grow older. 

The aforementioned details point to the need to control e-cigarette consumption within the younger generation, due to the developmental effects vaping can have on our bones. Vaping, at its minimum, should only be used as a means of quitting tobacco, rather than a fun social activity. It is vital more control measures are put into place to discourage the youth from vaping. 

Lifestyle Choices

We have discussed the potential effects of vaping on bone health, however, it is essential to note that other lifestyle choices play just as big of a role. Other factors such as heavy alcohol use, inactivity, low nutritious diet, and excessive dieting can all also impact our bone health. It is important to moderate our lifestyle choices to ensure healthier bones, leading to a better chance of life without bone complications. If you are concerned about your lifestyle choices, you can read our blog here on how to improve your own physical health in 2023.

healthy-woman-sitting-down-to-eat-salad-after-exercising

While initially thought of as a healthier alternative to tobacco cigarette smoking, it is evident that vaping still poses its own health risks, including implications to bone health. The potential negative impacts should be considered and researched more closely. 

If you or someone you know vapes, it is important to be aware of the potential risk factors associated with vaping on your health. If you are concerned about your bone health, we advise seeking medical advice and adopting changes to potentially imposing lifestyle choices. To speak with one of our professionals, send us a message, and take a step forward in taking control of your bone health.




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