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Moderate drinking protect bones: study

Fri March 6th, 2009

Regular beer and wine consumption may help protect the bones of elderly people, researchers have reported.

Moderate consumpton of alcohol is associated with greater bone mineral density in people aged more than 60 years, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports.

But the research found that while one or two drinks a day was beneficial, heavy drinking may contribute to bone loss.

A team from Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA, analysed density measurements taken at the hip and the spine in 1,182 men, 1,289 post-menopausal women and 248 pre-menopausal women.

The strongest link was seen in men who reported one or two services of total alcohol (a combination of beer, wine and liquor) or one or two servings of beer per day.

Hip density in this group was significantly greater compared to non-drinkers.

Study author Professor Katherine Tucker said silicon found in beers could be responsible, citing previous studies finding silicon has greater bioavailability as as liquid.

It is less clear why liquor and wine might protect bone mineral density.

"We cannot say definitely what component of these alcoholic drinks might be beneficial to bone health because our findings are from an observational study, as opposed to a clinical trial," Professor Tucker said.

She said further studies were needed, including exploring whether the antioxidants found in wine, such as revesterol or polyphenols, had a protective effect on bone.

Am.J.Clinical Nutrition February 25, 2009. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.26765

Tags: Elderly Health | Orthopaedics | Rheumatology | Diet & Food | North America

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