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Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements for Seniors

Older Women Lower Osteoporosis Risk with Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol appears to behave similarly to estrogen in that it reduces bone turnover; moderate drinkers have a higher bone density than non-drinkers or heavy drinkers

This is an electron microscope image showing osteoporotic architecture in the fourth lumbar vertebra of an 89-year-old woman.

July 11, 2012 - Drinking a moderate amount of alcohol as part of a healthy lifestyle may benefit women's bone health, lowering their risk of developing osteoporosis. A new study assessed the effects of alcohol withdrawal on bone turnover in postmenopausal women who drank one or two drinks per day several times a week.

Researchers at Oregon State University measured a significant increase in blood markers of bone turnover in women after they stopped drinking for just two weeks.

Bones are in a constant state of remodeling with old bone being removed and replaced. In people with osteoporosis, more bone is lost than reformed resulting in porous, weak bones.

 

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Alcohol May Trigger Dangerous Palpitations in Atrial Fibrillation Patients

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Women Consuming Moderate Amount of Alcohol Significantly Lower Stroke Risk

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Red Wine a Day Produces Differing Heart Protection for Different People

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Low Levels of Alcohol Consumption Linked With Small Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

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Light Alcohol Drinking Decreases Cancer Risk; More Frequency Jumps Cancer Death Rate

Large study of cancer victims investigates alcohol consumption and cancer mortality - see Q&A by CDC on alcohol consumption below story

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Heavy Liquor Drinking May Increase Risk of Death from Pancreatic Cancer

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 More links to reports on alcohol consumption below news story.


Read more on Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements

 

About 80 percent of all people with osteoporosis are women, and postmenopausal women face an even greater risk because estrogen, a hormone that helps keep bone remodeling in balance, decreases after menopause.

Past studies have shown that moderate drinkers have a higher bone density than non-drinkers or heavy drinkers, but these studies have provided no explanation for the differences in bone density. Alcohol appears to behave similarly to estrogen in that it reduces bone turnover, the researchers said.

In the current study, published online July 11 in the journal Menopause, researchers in OSU's Skeletal Biology Laboratory studied 40 early postmenopausal women who regularly had one or two drinks a day, were not on any hormone replacement therapies, and had no history of osteoporosis-related fractures.

The researchers found evidence for increased bone turnover – a risk factor for osteoporotic fractures – during the two week period when the participants stopped drinking. Even more surprising: the researchers found that less than a day after the women resumed their normal drinking, their bone turnover rates returned to previous levels.

"Drinking moderately as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet and exercise may be beneficial for bone health, especially in postmenopausal women," said Urszula Iwaniec, associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU and one of the study's authors.

"After less than 24 hours to see such a measurable effect was really unexpected."

Iwaniec, OSU's Skeletal Biology Laboratory director Russell Turner, and researcher Gianni Maddalozzo assisted OSU alumna Jill Marrone with the study, which was Marrone's master's thesis.

This study is important because it suggests a cellular mechanism for the increased bone density often observed in postmenopausal women who are moderate drinkers, Turner said.

The researchers said many of the medications to help prevent bone loss are not only expensive, but can have unwanted side effects. While excessive drinking has a negative impact on health, drinking a glass of wine or beer regularly as part of a healthy lifestyle may be helpful for postmenopausal women.

"Everyone loses bone as they age, but not everyone develops osteoporosis," Turner said. "Being able to identify factors, such as moderate alcohol intake, that influence bone health will help people make informed lifestyle choices."


Notes:

The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the John C. Erkkila, M.D. Endowment for Health and Human Performance.

Karin Hardin, Adam Branscum, Kenneth Philbrick and Lynn Cialdella-Kam of OSU co-authored the study, along with Anne Breggia and Clifford Rosen of the Maine Medical Center Research Institute.


Problem Drinking in Older Adults - opens in new windowProblem Drinking in Older Adults

[4 min 34 sec]

Click to watch this video: NIH SeniorHealth
Transcript, Video help


Frequently Asked Questions About Alcohol

   ● What is a standard drink in the United States?

A standard drink is equal to 13.7 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in
      > 12-ounces of beer.
      > 8-ounces of malt liquor.
      > 5-ounces of wine.
      > 1.5-ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey).

   ● Is beer or wine safer to drink than liquor?

No. One 12-ounce beer has about the same amount of alcohol as one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. It is the amount of alcohol consumed that affects a person most, not the type of alcoholic drink.

   ● What does moderate drinking mean?
There is no one definition of moderate drinking, but generally the term is used to describe a lower-risk pattern of drinking. According to the
Dietary Guidelines for Americans,1 drinking in moderation is defined as having no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men. This definition is referring to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days.

>> More at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Links to more Reports on Seniors and Alcohol in our Archives

Alcohol Consumption by Elderly Reduces Risk of Dementia, Alzheimer’s

Most studies of senior citizens in last 31 years show association between moderate alcohol consumption and better cognitive function and reduced risk of dementia

March 7, 2011


Heavy Alcohol Drinking Spurs High-Grade Prostate Cancer, Stops Prevention by Finasteride

Four or more drinks on 5 or more days per week doubles risk of high-grade prostate cancer

July 13, 2009


Senior Citizens See Almost 40% Drop in Dementia Risk with Moderate Alcohol Drinking

Study of seniors age 75 and older confirms benefits of alcohol in preventing dementia that had been proven for middle aged adults - July 13, 2009


Older People Reduce Death Risk by 25 Percent with Daily Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Large study of people over age 55 says any way you look at it, moderate alcohol is beneficial

March 30, 2009


No Matter if Wine is Red or White, it Can Increase Beast Cancer Risk for Women

Large study shows breast cancer risk increase the same from wine, beer or liquor

March 9, 2009


Older People More Impaired by Social Drinking, More Likely to Think They are OK

It's not clear why but it seems to be a difference in alcohol metabolism: alcohol may affect the brain of older adults differently.

March 5, 2009


Million Women Study Finds Even Moderate Alcohol Consumption Increases Cancer Risk

Risk increases with increase in alcohol consumption and smoking, regardless of alcohol source, i.e., wine, spirits, etc.

Feb. 25, 2009


Drinking Alcohol May Protect Hearts in Older People but It Shrinks Their Brains

The more alcohol consumed, the smaller the total brain volume; stronger in women

Oct. 13, 2008


Red Wine Lowers Lung Cancer Risk in Older Men, Especially Smokers

Two percent lower lung cancer risk with each glass of red wine consumed per month

Oct. 7, 2008


Resverstrol in Red Wine Prevents Breast Cancer Development in Laboratory Study

Prevents first step when estrogen starts process that leads to cancer by blocking formation of DNA adducts

July 7, 2008


Resveratrol in Red Wine May Achieve Same Longevity Results as Starvation Dieting

Study important because it suggests that resveratrol and caloric restriction may govern the same master genetic pathways related to aging

June 4, 2008


Another Study Points to Higher Breast Cancer Risk from Alcohol for Older Women

The more older (postmenopausal) women drink the greater the risk

April 14, 2008


New Study Confirms Red Wine Antioxidant Kills Cancer

Researchers pinpoint how resveratrol induces pancreatic cancer cell death

March 26, 2008


Red Wine Element Reverses Pathways of Obesity That Cause Age-Related Diseases

Resveratrol previously found to extend lifespan of other organisms may help against heart disease, diabetes

November 2, 2006


Wine, Beer, Liquor It Doesn't Matter – Too Much Jumps Breast Cancer Risk

Three drinks of alcohol a day is as bad as smoking a pack a day

Sept. 27, 2007


Moderate Drinking May Boost Memory and Protect Against Alzheimer's

Research grows saying what we eat, drink impacts dementia

November 2, 2006

 

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