According to a recent study of girls age 11–19, girls who smoke during these years place their capacity to build bone at risk. The peak bone-building years for girls start at around age 9 and carry on through the teen years. These years account for about 50% of the bone acquired during the lifetime. Girls who smoked started out with similar bone density to non-smoking girls, but by age 19 were, on average, a year behind in bone density. Even low-frequency or irregular smoking was associated with lower bone density, after controlling for other factors that affect bone health. While this is just one study, it’s the first to look at the negative impact smoking has on the bones of girls.
The girls in the study got less calcium and physical activity than what is recommended, a situation that is typical of Canadian girls too. A wealth of evidence points to the importance of getting enough calcium and physical activity throughout life, but particularly during the bone-building years. Find out more about getting enough calcium by using the online Calcium Calculator™ or printing/ordering your own copy. Encourage tweens to learn more about the importance of getting enough calcium and physical activity by watching the Bone Zone vignettes.