If you are female and in your 50s and early 60s, you may want to raise a glass of wine to a study in the journal Menopause: moderate alcohol consumption may lower your risk of osteoporosis. Researchers at Oregon State University conducted a small study of 40 women who averaged 1.4 drinks a day and more than 90 percent of whom consumed wine.
The Oregon State team evaluated healthy, early menopausal women with an average age of 56 who drank only moderately. The hormone estrogen declines as women age and move through menopause. Estrogen helps with the body’s ongoing replacement of old bone and adds to overall bone strength. When bones dissolve, tiny fragments of bone protein flow into the bloodstream. A lower bone turnover rate helps protect against fractures.
The researchers examined blood samples of the study women to determine the effect of alcohol on bone rebuilding. Samples were taken at the start of the study, and the women were directed to abstain from alcohol for two weeks. Blood samples at the end of the two weeks showed their rate of bone regeneration increased.
Lead researcher Urszula Iwaniec, Ph.D., summed up the study. “What alcohol seems to do is lower the overall rate of turnover, which may reduce your bone loss,” the associate professor explains. But Iwaniec warns that “excessive drinking is bad for your bones.”
Previous studies have measured the link between moderate drinking and bone health by testing bone density. Medical professionals advise that larger studies are needed to repeat the findings of the alcohol, and besides alcohol consumption, women and men can fortify their bone structure through a number of means, including:
- A diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, and fruits and vegetables.
- Regular weight-bearing physical activity.
- Avoidance of tobacco and more than two alcoholic drinks a day.
What are your thoughts on alcohol consumption for better bone health?
An award-winning journalist who has documented stories in nearly 20 countries, Beth Lueders is an author, writer and speaker who frequently reports on diverse topics, including aging and health issues for both U.S. and international corporations.