Smokers are 1.5 times more likely to suffer fractures, sprains and other physical injuries, a study of army recruits has revealed.
The researchers from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Maryland, United States, suggest this might be because smoking can impair healing by interfering with the body's ability to repair muscle, bone, and other tissue.
Co-author John Gardner said: "These data show that at least some of the detrimental effects of cigarette smoking may occur at an early age and have immediate consequences."
The scientists followed the progress of 915 female and 1,087 male recruits to the US Army through their eight-week training programme. A third had smoked at least one cigarette in the previous month.
According to the research, to be published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 56 per cent of the female smokers and 40 per cent of the male smokers suffered at least one physical injury during training compared with 46 per cent of the non-smoking women and 29 per cent of the non-smoking men.
After adjusting for other influential factors, such as age or fitness levels, the smokers were still 1.5 times more likely to be injured.