It’s hard to argue with this advice, even when it comes from such a small, short term study – older women who have one to two alcoholic drinks (that’s 8 to 10 grams of alcohol) a few times a week improve their bone health and cut the risk of developing mobility robbing osteoporosis. This disease is a silent one, supplying no outward symptoms as it weakens bones and makes them more prone to breaking. Most women don’t realize they even have this condition until they break a bone.
The study centered on 40 healthy postmenopausal females (average age 56) who were moderate drinkers in the year before the research started and were not using hormone replacement therapy. When the women stopped drinking for a period of two weeks, blood samples taken by the researchers showed increased bone turnover – a risk factor for osteoporosis. In under a day after the women began drinking again, the markers of bone turnover returned to the levels they’d been at while the women were routinely enjoying from one half to two alcoholic beverages a day.
Earlier research has shown that moderate drinkers do have higher bone density than either nondrinkers or heavy drinkers. Why this might be remains unclear. Could the alcohol act like the hormone estrogen in slowing bone turnover?
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Ladies Drink Up To Healthy Bones Continued…
The thing to realize is that bones are actually living tissue. Old bone is constantly being removed and replaced in a process medicine calls remodeling. For patients with bone thinning osteoporosis the natural balance has somehow gotten off track, with more bone lost than replaced. Women after menopause are at particular risk because they don’t have as much estrogen as they once did – this hormone is essential for strong bones.
There are some sobering statistics to go along with this research. Figures from the National Institutes of Health suggest that just about half of U.S. women and one quarter of men will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Drugs used to treat, or prevent, this disease are expensive and have some undesirable side effects.
Study lead Urszula Iwaniec, an associate professor from Oregon State University believes that the research clearly shows even small intakes of alcohol can have an impact on bone metabolism. So long as you’re living a healthy lifestyle, doing regular weight bearing exercise, and eating a well balanced diet that’s high in nutrients and calcium, moderate alcohol intake is liable to slow bone loss by lowering bone turnover. That is not to say that moderate alcohol consumption will prevent breaks, the study authors point out.
Some doctors are giving this exact advice to their postmenopausal patients.
The idea of reducing bone turnover is only suggested for older adults, it would be detrimental to younger people who are still in the process of building bone mass. Bone mass peaks at around age 35. That’s why it’s so important for young people to build up all the bone mass they can, while they can.
The study appears in the journal Menopause.
To your good health,