We all know about the various health problems and threats that smoking poses, and yet many of us continue to smoke regardless of this – and even continue to smoke under age. The vast range of illnesses and diseases caused by smoking, as well as the detriment to physical fitness, do not seem to be enough to put people off, but some of the issues of vanity that effect teenagers may sometimes be more off putting.
This is why it’s not uncommon to find on Yahoo Answers or web forums teenagers asking whether smoking will stunt their growth. The lung cancer it seems is not enough of a concern – but if you’re not going to be as tall as your friends, well that’s a different matter.
How Smoking Stunts Growth
Unfortunately for these smoking teens, the answer is yes – smoking can stunt your growth. It can also result in the slow healing of wounds, lack of muscle and other problems associated with poor anabolism and lack of tissue building and repairing.
Smoking will not affect the pituitary glands which produce the hormones necessary for growth, but however it does result in an increase in carbon monoxide in the blood. This then in turn means that the blood has a lower concentration of oxygen and of the other things that it needs to build and repair tissue such as minerals and vitamins. What this then means is that when an area needs protein or other nutrients to grow, it will not be supplied with them as quickly or in such high quantities and quality. This may then mean that that function of the body is not carried out at all, or just that it is not carried out well.
At the same time smoking may result in lower amounts of testosterone – the hormone involved in building muscle, growing hair, and burning fat. This hormone is also involved in growth as it is an anabolic hormone that tells the body when to build tissue.
Who’s at Risk?
This effect is relatively minor, and you will probably not notice extremely stunted growth – you’ll just not be growing quite as healthily or as effectively as you otherwise would have been. It probably won’t cause a problem for second hand smokers as they won’t inhale enough to significantly alter their balance of oxygen and carbon monoxide. At the same time stunted growth is of course only an issue for those still growing – whose growth plates in their wrists and ankles are still open so that the bones can increase in length. Pregnant mothers though certainly should not smoke as it is highly important that their blood provide a developing child with all the nutrients it needs to survive and prosper.
That said, anyone who smokes should have more than enough reason to quit and in reality some loss of height is really the least of your worries.