Moderate Alcohol Consumption Beneficial to Bone Density

Previous research has suggested that consuming alcohol increases the mineral density of bones in older women. This study focuses on establishing an association between consumption of alcoholic beverages and bone mineral density in men and pre- and post-menopausal women. It was observed that bone density increased when imbibing one to two drinks of alcohol daily, but was reduced when higher daily alcohol consumption was seen. Liquor had a negative impact on bone density, unlike controlled levels of beer or wine. Elements like silicon and resveratrol in beer and wine respectively played significant roles in the positive effect on bone density.

Moderate intake of alcohol has been reported to have beneficial effects on bone. However, the effects of the different classes of alcoholic drinks on bones could vary. There are no reported studies on the individual effects of wine, beer or liquor on bone density. This study is aimed at assessing the individual effects of each of the types of alcoholic drinks on bone mineral density. This study included older men and women, and also premenopausal women, to evaluate the effect of various alcoholic drinks on bone density.

* The participants of this study belonged to the Framingham Osteoporosis Study and consisted of 1,182 men, 1,289 postmenopausal and 248 premenopausal women.
* Bone mineral density was measured once for each participant, at the right hip and lower back.
* Data from a 126-item food frequency questionnaire, which was filled in twice at different periods, was used to account for the total alcohol intake and intake of the different alcoholic beverages by each participant.
* “Former drinkers” were differentiated from “never drinkers” by evaluating older questionnaires.

* Most men consumed beer, whereas most women predominantly consumed wine.
* Bone density in the hip was more in men who consumed one to two drinks drinks/day than the non-drinkers. Similarly, bone density was higher in postmenopausal women who consumed less than two drinks a day.
* Those consuming more than two drinks of liquor in a day had significantly lower hip and spine bone density than those consuming one to two drinks of liquor a day.

In this study, the effect of alcohol on bone density was studied for only a brief period; conclusions about the long-term effects of alcohol on bone density cannot be decided, based on this study alone. Binge drinking and steady drinking could have been classified as moderate drinking; however, the former has more ill effects than the latter. The number of premenopausal women was low in this study. Finally, the lower number of women drinking beer limits the conclusions that can be drawn in this group.

This is the first study to examine the association between bone density and intakes of the different classes of alcoholic beverages in men and post- and premenopausal women. Mild levels of alcohol consumption seem to be beneficial to bone mineral density in older men and in postmenopausal women. However, the long-term effects of alcohol on bone mineral density have not been ascertained. Silicon, resveratrol and a few other compounds influence these effects of alcohol on bone density. Therefore the authors conclude, “confirmation of these findings is required, and human intervention studies that measure changes in bone remodeling markers may help in establishing potential mechanisms.”

For More Information:
Effects of Beer, Wine and Liquor Intakes on Bone Mineral Density in Older Men and Women
Publication Journal: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 2009
By Katherine L Tucker; Ravin Jugdaohsingh; Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts and the MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Cambridge, England

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.

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