Cancer and Tobacco Control

Smokers’ bones take longer to heal

Smokers’ broken bones take longer to heal than that of non-smokers, according to new research.

“We showed that smokers are at a higher risk of long bone fracture nonunion [not joining], and that there is a trend towards longer fracture healing times in smokers,” said study author Dr Mara L. Schenker from the University of Pennsylvania  in a Reuters Health report.

The researchers reviewed the literature studying the association between smoking and fracture healing (nonunion and healing time) and post-operative infections.

They analysed the risk of nonunion and healing time of tibia fractures and open fractures and found it that smokers had a higher risk of non-union in both cases. (In smokers compared to non-smokers, the adjusted odds ratio for nonunion was 2.3 or p<0.01. Their risk for nonunion was increased only with tibia fractures or 2.42, p<0.01 and open fractures or 2.42, p<0.01.)

Smokers also tended to have longer mean healing times for all fracture types (30.2 vs 24.1 weeks) and for tibia fractures (32.0 vs 25.1 weeks).

The authors advised that the potential risks need to be discussed with all fracture patients and that smoking intervention programs should be instituted to promote better patient health.

Schenker said this information is useful to share with orthopaedic patients. “We can tell these patients [smokers] that they are at a higher risk, that their fracture may not heal without additional intervention, and even if it does heal, it may take a longer period of time,” said Schenker.

The study findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in March.

Source: Reuters Health

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