Bone structure and geometry in young men: the influence of smoking, alcohol intake and physical activity

Kyriacos I Eleftheriou, Jaikirty S Rawal, Lawrence E James, John R Payne, Mike Loosemore, Dudley J Pennell, Michael World, Fotios Drenos, Fares S Haddad, Steve E Humphries, Julie Sanders, Hugh E Montgomery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The development of osteoporosis is influenced by peak bone mass attained in youth - the influence of lifestyle factors upon which is poorly described, especially amongst males. We sought to address this issue in a large scale study.

METHODS: Hip bone mineral density (dual X-ray absorptiometry, DXA), bone microarchitecture (calcaneal quantitative ultrasound, QUS) and femoral geometry (magnetic resonance imaging, MRI) were characterised in 723 healthy male military recruits (mean ± S.E. age 19.92 ± 0.09 years [range 16-18 years], height 177.67 ± 0.24 cm, weight 73.17 ± 0.37 kg) on entry to UK Army training. Association was sought with prior physical activity, smoking status and alcohol intake.

RESULTS: DXA measures were made in 651, MRI measures in 650, and QUS measures in 572 recruits. Increasing levels of weight-bearing physical activity enhanced periostial bone apposition, increases in both total hip and femoral neck bone mineral density (BMD; p ≤ 0.0001 in both cases), and cortical [p<0.0001] and periostial bone volumes [p=0.016]. Smoking habit was associated with preserved bone geometry, but worse BMD [p=0.0001] and QUS characteristics [p ≤ 0.0005]. Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with greater BMD [p ≤ 0.015].

CONCLUSIONS: Whilst exercise (and perhaps moderate alcohol intake) is beneficial to bone morphometry, smoking is detrimental to bone mineral density in young males notable for the likely short duration of smoking to influence skeletal properties. However, differences in socio-economic status, lifestyle and related environmental factors may to some extent confound our results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Bone Density
  • Bone and Bones
  • Cohort Studies
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Phenotype
  • Smoking
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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