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Alcohol and Women's Bones

by James Heller 23. April 2009 09:21
April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.  

Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment.  Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.

Women need to pay attention to bone health in order to avoid osteoporosis and other bone diseases that are more prevalent with them than with men.  Doctors regularly suggest supplements and dietary plans that enhance women’s bone health.  But alcohol abuse and dependence can negate any benefits from these.

Naturally, one would think that women should be cautious about drinking heavily after menopause when their bones begin to deteriorate.  However, study results show that the stage for bone loss is set as early as adolescence.  Although alcohol abuse among older women has a negative effect on bone health, it is not as bad as with adolescent alcohol abuse.

The jury is still out on studies concluding that moderate alcohol consumption benefits bone health in women.  While Tarzana Treatment Centers focuses on those in need of alcohol detox and treatment, information is provided for moderate drinkers below because it may benefit other women concerned about bone health.

The excerpts below from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism are part of a study that includes detailed statistics.  

-- Begin external content --

MODERATE DRINKING
The effect of moderate alcohol use on bone health and osteoporosis risk is unclear. (Editor’s Note: Definitions of moderate drinking vary. Federal guidelines consider moderate drinking to be no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men [U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1995].) A few epidemiological studies in humans have indicated that moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with decreased fracture risk in postmenopausal women (Hansen et al. 1991; Felson et al. 1995). One large study (Diaz et al. 1997) found that women age 65 and over who consumed alcohol on more than 5 days per week had a significantly reduced risk of vertebral deformity compared with those who consumed alcohol less than once per week. (Crush fractures of the anterior vertebral body cause most women’s bone–related visits to the doctor.)

This apparent beneficial effect of moderate drinking on bone health has not been found in animal studies, which can control for the amount of alcohol consumed as well as for other lifestyle factors.

CHRONIC HEAVY DRINKING
Effects of Alcohol on Growing Bone
Almost all epidemiological studies of alcohol use and human bone health indicate that chronic heavy alcohol consumption, particularly during adolescence and young adulthood, can dramatically affect bone health and may increase the risk of developing osteoporosis later. Although alcohol appears to have an effect on bone–forming cells (i.e., osteoblasts), slowing bone turnover, the specific mechanisms by which alcohol affects bone are poorly understood.

-- Source: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-4/292-298.htm --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.