Lifestyle & Belief

Alcohol may improve bone health, new study says


Bottles of A. Rousseau Chambertin Vintage 2009 red wine displayed in Hong Kong this week. Researchers published a study Tuesday that links even small amounts of alcohol to an increased risk of breast cancer.

More good news for health nuts who like to hit the bottle: moderate drinking may improve bone health in older women, decreasing their chance of getting osteoporosis, a new study has found. 

In healthy people, bones are constantly undergoing a state of "bone turnover" in which they replace old bone cells with new ones. But in people with osteoporosis, a bone disease, more bone is lost than replaced, resulting in weak bones. About 80 percent of people who suffer from the disease are older women, Science Daily reported.

In the latest study, the researchers found that light drinking can reduce the risk of osteoporosis in older women. The researchers looked at the effects of moderate alcohol consumption on the bone turnover of post-menopausal women. They found that light drinking suppresses the rate that bones in older women shed their old cells, Live Science reported.

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In addition, when women in the study stopped drinking for two weeks, all of their bone turnover sped up. "After less than 24 hours, to see such a measurable effect was really unexpected," researcher Urszula Iwaniec, an associate professor at Oregon State University, told Live Science. 

Of course, research has also shown that alcohol consumption, even light drinking, can increase women's risk for breast cancer, among other health problems. So downing shots of cheap liquor in the name of better bones probably isn't the brightest idea. But the new research should bring some comfort to people who need a nice glass of red wine with dinner. "Moderate alcohol as a component of a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and physical activity may lower the risk of osteoporosis," Iwaniec told WebMD.