Menopause may drive many women to drink, but hitting the bottle may actually help postmenopausal women prevent bone loss, a new study has shown.
A study published in Menopause journal examined the relationship between moderate alcohol intake and the biochemical markers of bone turnover in 40 postmenopausal women who regularly consumed one or two drinks a day.
They found that blood markers indicating bone turnover were higher when the women stopped drinking for two weeks, but less than a day after the women resumed their normal drinking habits, the blood markers returned to their 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 Dr Urszula Iwaniec, Associate Professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University (OSU) and one of the study’s authors.
“After less than 24 hours to see such a measurable effect was really unexpected.”
According to the researchers, previous studies have revealed that moderate drinkers have a higher bone density than teetotallers or heavy imbibers, but have not been able to explain this phenomenon. The researchers suggested that alcohol may behave similarly to oestrogen, reducing bone turnover.
After menopause, oestrogen levels decrease. This is a problem as oestrogen plays a significant role in keeping bone remodelling in balance. Bones are in a constant state of change, with old bone being removed and replaced. If more bone is lost than reformed, osteoporosis results.
“Everyone loses bone as they age, but not everyone develops osteoporosis,” said Russell Turner, OSU’s Skeletal Biology Laboratory director, another author. “Being able to identify factors, such as moderate alcohol intake, that influence bone health will help people make informed lifestyle choices.”
The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the John C Erkkila, MD, Endowment for Health and Human Performance.