Smokers: Kick your tobacco habit if you want better, faster repair of bones

The chief of Hadassah’s orthopedics division and his team published the findings in a recent issue of the journal Bone Marrow Research.

December 8, 2015 02:51
1 minute read.

File picture of Fidel Castro smoking a cigar during interview with the press in Havana. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Hadassah University Medical Center researchers have a new reason – among many – not to smoke: it will take more time for the body to repair bone fractures. The reason, according to Prof. Meir Liebergall, is that production of adult stem cells for reconnecting broken bones is lower in smokers.

Liebergall, chief of Hadassah’s orthopedics division, and his team published the findings in a recent issue of the journal Bone Marrow Research.

The department has for some time conducted basic and clinical research on the use of such cells, made from the patient’s bone marrow, to repair bones, tendons and cartilage to speed their repair. The stem cells are extracted and isolated from each patient.

But the complicated transition of the cells from the lab to clinical treatment requires the doctors to test the efficacy of pumping the marrow, depending on the amount of cells they managed to extricate.

Liebergall and Dr. Shaul Beyth of the orthopedic surgery department studied the efficacy of extracting the unique cells to be used for repairing fractures. One of the factors they looked into was patient smoking.

The amount of adult stem cells in samples in smokers was significantly lower than in nonsmokers, they found. This finding has much clinical importance, as repair is thus much longer and more problematic than in patients who eschew tobacco.

They also found encouraging evidence that patients who stopped smoking for about two years regained the level of stem cell production of nonsmokers. “We hope that our discovery will induce many patients to avoid [and to quit] smoking,” said Liebergall.

“It is thus not too late to kick the habit.”

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