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One to two drinks a day good for women's bones

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2012-07-11 13:20

New research shows postmenopausal women who consume one to two alcohol drinks a day are at lower risk for bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. Drinking moderately seems to normalize bone turnover to protect older women from fractures related to osteoporosis.

Alcohol lowers rate of bone turnover that is a risk factor for osteoporosis

Researchers at Oregon State University looked at what happened to bone turnover when postmenopausal women stopped drinking alcohol for just two weeks.

They found an increase in bone turnover blood markers, meaning increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures. High rate of bone turnover is associated with lower bone density, osteoporosis and higher chances that brittle bones will fracture.

Bones, like other cells in the body, are metabolically active throughout life. When they get old or injured, new bone starts to form through a process known bone remodeling. The process is regulated, in part, by the hormone estrogen.

After menopause, estrogen levels decline. When levels of the hormone falls, bone remodeling slows down because turnover accelerates. In other words, bone is reabsorbed faster than new bones can form.

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For the current study, published online July 11 in the journal Menopause, researchers studied 40 women who were in early stages of menopause, consumed 1 to 2 alcohol drinks a day, no history of bone fracture and were not on hormone replacement therapy.

The women were asked to stop drinking alcohol for two weeks. During that time, the researchers found evidence that bone turnover was higher. A surprise, according to a media release, was that bone turnover rates normalized one day after the women resumed drinking.

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