Osteoporosis — a loss of bone mineral density — may have its roots in the teen years. A new study has found that adolescents who smoke and suffer from depression may be at greater risk for developing osteoporosis later in life.
For the study, researchers recruited 262 healthy girls between the ages of 11 and 19. This age group was chosen because it is a crucial time for bone development.
About 50 percent of bone mass is gained during the two years surrounding a girl’s first period.
“As much bone is accrued in the two years surrounding a girl’s first menstrual cycle as is lost in the last four decades of life,” said Lorah Dorn, Ph.D., the principal investigator and the research director at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
For three years, the girls received clinical check-ups while they were enrolled in the study. This included measurements of their bone mineral density and bone mineral content.
The participants were also asked to self-report how often they smoked, drank alcohol, and had symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Girls who frequently smoked cigarettes had lower rates of lumbar spine and total bone density during this time period.
Also, girls who suffered from depression had lower rates of lumbar spine density during all time periods.
Girls who reported symptoms of depression did increase their bone mass, but at a slower rate than the girls who did not report such symptoms.
No link was found between alcohol intake and bone density.
“Osteoporosis is a costly health problem affecting an estimated 10 million Americans, with an additional 34 million considered at risk,” said Dorn.
“To our knowledge this is the first longitudinal study to test and demonstrate that smoking by girls, as well as symptoms of depression, have a negative impact on bone accrual during adolescence.”
The study is published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Source: Journal of Adolescent Health