Moderate Drinking May Build Bone Density

Moderate drinking may help build bone density

People who enjoy a glass or two of wine or beer every day could be helping to keep their bones strong, new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests. However, drinking more — and choosing hard liquor instead of wine or beer — may actually weaken bones, Dr. Katherine Tucker of Tufts University in Boston and her colleagues found.

In an interview with Reuters Health, Tucker agreed that keeping track of the health benefits and risks of alcohol is tough these days. “It is very confusing for people because alcohol has such diverse effects on different things,” she said; for example, while drinking may prevent heart disease, it increases breast cancer risk. Nevertheless, the researcher added, the effect of alcohol on bone mineral density (BMD) that she and her colleagues saw was “larger than what we see for any single nutrient, even for calcium. It’s not ambiguous. It’s very clear.”

“The main message here is that if you are drinking up to one or two glasses of wine or beer a day, you don’t need to stop for your bones’ sake, in fact it’s helpful,” the researcher said. “It’s a personal decision.”

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online February 25, 2009.

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