You've heard it a million times before: Smoking is bad for your health. Not only does it increase your risk of a number of cancers, but also of stroke, heart disease, emphysema and dying young.
However, it turns out that smoking may provide you with one major benefit - that's if you manage to dodge all the health risks associated with the bad habit, of course...
According to a new study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, smoking may reduce your risk for joint replacement surgery later in life! If you're a smoker and have joint problems, I'm sure you're curious now - read on for more on this surprising finding.
Study finds that smoking may reduce your risk for joint replacement surgery later in life
Researchers behind the study looked at nearly 11,000 older men living in Australia. They found that those who smoked for 48 years or more – that’s the bulk of their adult lives – were a whopping 42% to 51% less likely, depending on their age, to need joint replacement surgery in their hips and knees due to damage by arthritis
or other conditions, compared to those who’d never smoked.
While previous research has suggested a similar association, this study is the first to show a clear relationship between the number of years spent smoking and the likelihood of joint replacement surgery, lead researcher Mnatzaganian reported.
Mnatzaganian is a PhD candidate in public health at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.
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Researchers think nicotine may play a role by stimulating activity of the cells found in joint cartilage
Wondering how smoking benefits your joints? Mnatzaganian’s team said that they couldn’t fully explain the finding.
What they do know is that habitual vigorous exercise and obesity
, for example, both increase your risk of arthritis
. These two factors also tend to be a lot less common amongst smokers. But the association between smoking and joint replacement surgery remained even when Mnatzaganian’s team’s took these factors into account.
The team also adjusted the data to account for health problems other than arthritis as well as the fact that smokers survived into old age in the first place.
However, Mnatzaganian suggested that nicotine may play a role. Lab tests done on animals and human tissue suggested that nicotine may stimulate activity of the cells found in the joint cartilage. This may help decrease the severity of osteoarthritis, Mnatzaganian said.
“What we would like to see now is increased research by laboratory and clinical scientists, so we can clarify the exact mechanisms by which smoking confers protection on weight-bearing joints,” Mnatzaganian reported.
“If this led to the development of new preventative or treatment strategies, then, eventually, we might reasonably expect to see a fall in the need for major joint replacement,” he added.
So does that mean that smoking is the answer to joint health? Of course not! “Whatever new preventative or treatment strategies may be developed in the future, they will certainly not include smoking,” Mnatzaganian cleared up.