Does drinking alcohol increase my risk for osteoporosis?

The person most likely to suffer from osteoporosis has pale skin, is very thin and drinks a lot of alcohol. Pale people often do not get enough sunlight to meet their needs for the bone-strengthening vitamin D; skinny people often miss essential nutrients necessary for bone health; and heavy drinking inhibits new bone from forming (Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, December, 2005).

Bones are always remodeling. Certain cells called osteoblasts continuously bring calcium into bones, while osteoclasts continuously take calcium out of bones. However, heavy drinking inhibits osteoblasts from forming new bone. So far, most studies show that people can take up to two drinks a day without harming their health. A drink is five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or two thirds of a shot glass of hard alcohol. However, exceeding that amount can hasten the onset of osteoporosis, in which the slightest trauma can break bones and they will heal much more slowly than normal.

February 1, 2006

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