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Girls Who Smoke at Increased Risk of Osteoporosis?

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- If you're a female, and a teenager, and you smoke -- you could be setting yourself up for problems that already affect women disproportionately, according to a new study.

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become fragile and more prone to break. It's much more common in women than men, and now a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health finds that girls who smoke put themselves at an even greater disadvantage.

Scientists led by Dr. Lorah Dorn at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center studied 262 healthy girls between the ages of 11 and 17 for three years.  Over time, they found that girls who smoke showed decreased bone density, which could lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis later in life.

The teenage years are crucial in a woman's bone formation because a girl gains as much bone in the first two years surrounding her first menstrual cycle as she loses in the last 40 years as an adult.  Women begin with lower bone density than men, and they lose bone more quickly as they age.  Consequently, the study authors say teen girls shouldn't give the process a head start by smoking.

The study also looked at symptoms of depression and alcohol consumption, and found that depressive symptoms also increase osteoporosis risk, but alcohol has no impact.

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