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Nicotine as bone treatment?

Monday May 28th, 2012

Nicotine may be harmful in cigarettes - but it could form part of a new bone-healing treatment, a European conference has heard.

Researchers from Leeds, UK, say the right concentration of drug can stimulate the metabolism of the bone and help treat fractures.

The findings were reported to the conference of the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology in Berlin, Germany, last week.

Dr Rami Kallala, from the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, analysed some 54 studies on the issue. These included tests on humans, on animals and in the laboratory.

The research showed that high doses of nicotine were harmful to bones.

He told delegates: “Cigarettes certainly do not have a positive impact but nicotine alone may well have. Smokers are aware of the stimulating effect of nicotine.

"In certain concentrations, this substance can also be beneficial to bone metabolism and fracture healing.

"The positive impact appears to turn negative, however, as soon as a high concentration of the substance is involved.”

He called for further research and clinical studies into the potential use of nicotine.

Surgeons said the findings did not mean that smokers would fare better when they suffered fractures.

A second study at the conference showed that smokers were less happy than others after knee surgery.

The study in Liverpool, UK, asked nearly 200 patients about the results of treatment which uses "microfracture" to treat cartilage injury.

Some 76 per cent of non-smokers were happy while 54 per cent of smokers were happy.

Dr Cronan Kerin, from Aintree University Hospital Liverpool, said: "My conclusion is that smoking unfavourably affects the outcome of microfracture."

Tags: Drug and Alcohol Abuse | Europe | Orthopaedics | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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