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The influence of smoking on vitamin D status and calcium metabolism


Objective: To assess the influence of smoking on serum parathyroid hormone (PTH), serum vitamin D metabolites, serum ionized calcium, serum phosphate, and biochemical markers of bone turnover in a cohort of 510 healthy Danish perimenopausal women.

Design: A cross-sectional study.

Setting: Copenhagen, Denmark.

Subjects: Five-hundred-and-ten healthy women aged 45–58 y, included 3–24 months after last menstrual bleeding. None were using hormone replacement therapy.

Methods: The women were grouped according to their current smoking status. The two groups were compared with regard to serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25-(OH)2D), intact PTH, ionized calcium and phosphate, osteocalcin, as well as urine pyridinolines. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured with DEXA-scans. Multiple regression analyses were performed to detect the effect of potentially confounding lifestyle factors, such as calcium and vitamin D intakes, alcohol and coffee consumption, sunbathing, and physical exercise.

Results: Fifty percent were current smokers. Smokers had significantly reduced levels of serum 25OHD (P=0.02), 1,25(OH)2D (P=0.001), and PTH (P<0.001). There was no difference in serum ionized calcium between smokers and non-smokers. We found a negative effect of smoking on serum osteocalcin (P=0.01), while urinary pyridinolines were similar in the two groups. The small differences in lifestyle between the two groups could not explain these findings. Smokers had small but significant reductions in bone mineral density.

Conclusions: Smoking has a significant effect on calcium and vitamin D metabolism, which is not likely to be explained by other confounding lifestyle factors. The depression of the vitamin D-PTH system seen among smokers may represent another potential mechanism for the deleterious effects of smoking on the skeleton, and may contribute to the reported risk of osteoporosis among smokers.

Sponsorship: Grants from the Karen Elise Jensens Foundation.

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Guarantor: C Brot.

Contributors: C Brot had the original idea for the study and performed the data analyses. N Rye Jørgensen participated in data analyses, and contributed to the paper. O Helmer Sørensen is one of the originators of the DOPS project. The paper was written jointly by all three authors.

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Correspondence to C Brot.

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Brot, C., Rye Jørgensen, N. & Helmer Sørensen, O. The influence of smoking on vitamin D status and calcium metabolism. Eur J Clin Nutr 53, 920–926 (1999).

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  • smoking
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • calcitriol
  • parathyroid hormone
  • osteocalcin
  • bone mineral density

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