Drinking and Smoking Linked to Bone Fractures? New Research Suggests So

A report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that hip fracture incidents have steadily reduced since the 1970s. Why? One reason could be because people are smoking less.

Screws inserted to replace hip fracture
Photo by AnthiaCumming/iStockphoto.com

Hip fractures can be tied to two substance use habits: One of them is smoking. And the second is alcohol consumption. Since smoking has receded, so too have hip fractures (to an extent). Sadly, alcohol use statistics are on their way up and have been for some time. If Americans curtailed their drinking like they did their smoking, we would have even fewer hip fractures and a healthier general population.

Hip Fractures, Smoking, and Drinking

Study data indicated a potential connection between lowered rates of hip fractures and decreases in smoking and drinking. The study found the less someone drinks and smokes, the less likely they are to suffer an osteoporosis-related hip fracture.

To arrive at this conclusion, researchers enlisted the help of 4,918 men and 5,634 women. The study followed these individuals for 40 years. Each year, there was a roughly 4.4 percent drop in hip fracture incidents among the study population.

According to the data, smoking habits decreased from 38 percent of the study population in the 1970s to 15 percent in 2010, a more than 50 percent reduction. Heavy alcohol consumption among the study group fell from 7 percent to 4.5 percent, an almost forty percent reduction.

According to Timothy Bhattacharyya, a medical doctor and a researcher with the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, “This study points to the continued need for public health interventions to target modifiable lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking, in addition to considering osteoporosis treatments in individuals at risk of hip fractures.”

And according to Robert H. Carter, M.D., “As we learn more about lifestyle factors that impact bone health, we continue to conduct research aimed at understanding all the factors that contribute to reducing fractures, including both lifestyle and medications, so that we can all live longer lives without disability.”

  “As we learn more about lifestyle factors that impact bone health, we continue to conduct research aimed at understanding all the factors that contribute to reducing fractures, including both lifestyle and medications, so that we can all live longer lives without disability.”  

From the study, there appears to be a connection between drinking, smoking, and general bone health. Since tobacco smoking has receded over the years, and alcohol abuse is still a roaring crisis, let’s examine the connection between alcohol consumption and bone integrity.

The National Institute of Health advises that excessive alcohol intake is a risk factor for osteoporosis (osteoporosis being the leading cause of hip fractures).

An Older woman seeing a doctor about osteoporosis
                     Photo by SDI Productions/iStockphoto.com

Alcohol affects bone health in many ways. Excessive alcohol intake interferes with the balance of calcium in the body, calcium being an essential nutrient for healthy bones. Alcohol also interferes with the body’s ability to produce vitamin D, a vitamin critical for calcium absorption.

Alcohol abuse can cause hormonal deficiencies in both men and women. For men, alcohol misuse can reduce testosterone. When testosterone levels in men recede, the body produces fewer cells that stimulate bone formation. For women, excessive drinking can trigger irregular menstrual cycles. That can reduce estrogen, which in turn increases the risk for osteoporosis.

Alcohol misuse often elevates cortisol levels, cortisol being the “stress” chemical in the brain. The presence of excessive cortisol can decrease bone formation and advance bone deterioration.

Last but not least, alcohol misuse also severely impacts balance, gait, and coordination. Alcohol addicts tend to fall more frequently than those who do not misuse the substance. That, too, can lead to hip fractures and even vertebral fractures.

Reduce Alcohol Misuse, Increase Bone Health

People who want to reduce their risk for bone-related health issues should significantly curb their drinking (if they consume alcohol). And for those who are addicted to alcohol, such individuals are at particularly high risk for accidents, injuries, and broken bones.

Alcohol misuse causes a vast range of problems, in addition to bone-related health issues. From alcohol poisoning, to drunk driving accidents, alcohol-related cardiovascular problems, mood swings, and terrible decisions, alcohol abuse is something everyone should abstain from.

For those who cannot stop using alcohol, the key is to seek treatment at a qualified drug and alcohol rehab center. An addiction to alcohol can easily be fatal. Alcohol misuse also makes the addict very dangerous to those around him or her.

If you know someone who is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, please contact Narconon today. When people get off of alcohol, entire areas of their health and wellbeing immediately begin to improve. Let your loved one experience the joy of getting their health back. Narconon can help make that happen. Call today.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.