The devastating effects of excessive alcohol consumption are undisputable, although some data suggest that moderate alcohol consumption may impart some health benefits. For instance, several studies have reported a positive association between alcohol intake and bone mineral density (BMD) in older women. There are fewer studies investigating this relation in men or younger women, and none have considered different classes of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, and liquor). To explore this issue further, an international team of experts headed by Katherine Tucker studied a cohort of adults in the Framingham Offspring Study. Their results are published in the April 2009 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In a companion editorial, Helen Macdonald adds interesting commentary to the debate.
ASN Spokesperson Stephanie Atkinson, PhD, explained the study which looked at the effects of alcohol on bone mineral density in older people, and said that “moderate alcohol consumption was shown to contribute to stronger bones (measured as hip and spine bone mineral density). The positive effect on bone was most notable at 1-3 glasses of beer in men and more than 2 glasses of wine or liquor (but not beer) for women. The bone preserving ingredients may be the silicon in beer and resveratrol in wine in addition to the alcohol. Such positive effects on bone must be balanced against the risk of falls and bone fractures caused by consuming excessive alcohol.”