University of Lincoln research shows that smoking can slow fractures from healing

The University of Lincoln and the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust have performed research that shows smoking harms chances of recovering from fractures.

A person smoking. Photo: Javier Ignacio Acuña Ditzel (via Flickr)
A person smoking. Photo: Javier Ignacio Acuña Ditzel (via Flickr)
The research shows that bone healing cells in non-smokers are “of a better quality, more active and quicker at dividing than those of smokers.”

The study consisted of 50 fracture patients allowing blood from around their fractures to be analysed at the University of Lincoln.

Analysis was performed to “identify the differences in the quantity and quality of stem cells and molecules that are involved in bone regeneration following fracture.”

Professor Mohammad Maqsood, Trauma and Orthopaedic Consultant at Lincoln County Hospital, had completed prior research to look at how smoking affects the healing of fractures. He said:

“We set up the research looking at the factors which affect the healing process of fractures in 2007, which involved collecting the blood from consenting patients, both smokers and non-smokers, who have suffered tibial fractures and had been admitted to Lincoln County Hospital for surgery.”

In order to analyse the blood in a controlled environment, the team “set up a ‘smoking machine’” to simulate the effects smoking 20 cigarettes a day has on blood.

Three other members of the team were: Director of Research and Development at ULHT and Consultant Breast Surgeon, Professor Oleg Eremin; Senior Lecturer, Dr Mohamed El-Sheemy, and PhD researcher Andrew Sloan from the University of Lincoln.

Staff from the orthopaedic department at Lincoln County Hospital were also on the team.

Andrew said: “I was particularly interested in how stem cells can be extracted and isolated from human fracture tissue. I felt a real sense of achievement when we were able to do this, as only one group in the world had written about this methodology previously.”

The study’s results show that the bone healing cells in non-smokers were of a superior quality, more active and quicker at dividing than those of smokers, which contributes to a faster healing process.

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