Photo: Flickr / Signe Karin
A regular tipple of alcohol could help protect older women from thinning bones as well as drugs, a new study has suggested.Researchers concluded that one or two glasses of wine a day worked well as drugs at maintaining bone strength.
A review team from the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research found regular moderate intake of alcohol after menopause helped maintain bone strength.
The experts, who analysed a study by the University of Oregon, concluded that abstaining from drinking led to a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
Instead modest drinking could work just as well as some drugs, suggested the review, which was published in the Menopause journal.
Hundreds of thousands of postmenopausal women take drugs called bisphosphonates each day to help combat thinning bones.
This meant alcohol was reducing the loss of old bone which improved the balance between old and new bone, thus maintaining strength.
The latest analysis, which adds supports the conclusion’s of previous studies, reviewed the study of 40 healthy postmenopausal women aged around 56.
The latest review found women who daily drank about two small glasses of wine – the equivalent of 19g of alcohol a day – had a drop in the loss of old bone.
This in turn improved the balance with their new bones and helped maintain strength. Later, their “bone turnover” improved after the women were asked to stop drinking
But a day after they began drinking again, their bone turnover was once again reduced
One reviewer said: “The results suggest an effect of moderate alcohol consumption similar to the effects of bisphosphonates.”
Campaigners warned against drinking more to protect bones because excessive alcohol increased the risk of fractures as well as increasing the risk of falls.
Medical experts have termed osteoporosis the “silent disease” because there are no known symptoms prior to a bone fracture.
Once a person has broken a bone, the risk of breaking more risk dramatically rises as the so-called “fragility fracture” is felt.
Figures show that around 300,000 fragility fractures occur every year in Britain with breaks to the hip leading to more than 1,150 deaths month.
Prof Jonathan Powell and Dr Ravin Jugdaohsingh of the Medical Research Council Nutrition Research Group at Cambridge University, described the study as “novel”.
They added: “Methods appear robust. The authors seem to know what they are doing. The moderate alcohol effect on bone is really quite potent.
“This is the ‘big issue’ in determining the relation of moderate alcohol intake and bone that needs resolving.”
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