There is some good news for wine drinkers. If recent research from the University of Oregon is to be believed moderate consumption of wine on a regular basis benefits the bones and this is especially true for aging women who have crossed menopause. Apparently, a glass or two of wine works as well as certain anti-resorptive drugs at keeping the bones strong and from leading to the development of osteoporosis. However, make no mistake it is wine or beer and not any other form of alcohol that drives home the benefit to the thinning bones. Also, caution is to be practiced in terms of the amount of wine that is being consumed. Any more than a glass or two will do damage.
Experts from the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research took a look at the study conducted by the researchers at the University of Oregon on 40 healthy post menopausal women around the of 56 years, which showed that such women who drank about 2 glasses of wine a day had a drop in the loss of old bone and it improved the balance between old and new bone thus maintaining overall bone strength. It brought about a balance between the reduction in the dissolving of old bone and the poor production of new bone. However, when these women stopped their daily wine intake, their ‘bone turnover’ increased –a result that one would expect to see if they stopped taking anti-resorptive drugs. When they resumed drinking their bone turnover was decelerated once again.
Notwithstanding the newfound benefits of moderate wine drinking, Sarah Leyland of the National Osteoporosis Society warns, “’Moderate amounts of alcohol might be beneficial for bones, but excessive alcohol increases the risk of fractures, as well as increasing the risk of falls.” (1)
The International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research stated that the study clearly exhibited that there occurred changes at the cellular level linked to drinking which explained why the drinkers had better bone strength.
According to Professor Jonathan Powell and Dr. Ravin Jugdaohsingh of the Medical Research Council Nutrition Research Group at Cambridge University, “The study is novel and methods appear robust. The authors seem to know what they are doing. ‘The moderate alcohol effect on bone is really quite potent. This is the ‘big issue’ in determining the relation of moderate alcohol intake and bone that needs resolving. It would be interesting to investigate just how long the levels of the bone turnover markers remain suppressed – if for 24 hours, then the regular, modest consumption (versus the 3 days a week modest consumption) debate for alcohol has some ‘data’ that supports the former – at least for bone.” (1)
However, we must be reminded that the study group is a small one with just 40 women. The research thus needs to be repeated for larger groups to check if the findings stand true.
The study is small, with only 40 women, she cautions, and the research needs to be repeated in larger groups to see if the findings hold up. The study is published in the journal Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.
Bones are constantly being remodelled within our bodies, with old bone being removed and replaced. For women, female hormone estrogen helps keep this bone remodelling process in good balance. But as women age and hit menopause, estrogen levels go down and the risk of decreased bone density increases as well as developing osteoporosis. As a general good practice, it is advisable to be physically active and do weight-bearing exercises. It is also important to eat a diet that is balanced with adequate amounts of calcium, Vitamin D, fruits and vegetables. (2)
- Wine ‘is as good as drugs for thin bones’; Daily Mail;
- Moderate Drinking May Help Older Women’s Bones; MedicineNet.com; Web August 2012;