Women who want to prevent osteoporosis may want to raise their glass. A new study says drinking a moderate amount of alcohol may help prevent bone less.
"I think it's a great idea," Judi Castro said. "It's better than medicine which has bad effects."
Researchers at Oregon State University studied postmenopausal women who regularly had one or two drinks a day. They found when the women stopped drinking for two weeks, their rates of bone turnover-- when bone is lost and replaced-- went up.
"Based on this study alcohol reduces bone loss by reducing the turnover that is elevated following menopause," said Urszula Iwaniec of Oregon State University, one of the study's authors.
The body constantly removes and replaces bone. With osteoporosis, more bone is lost than re-formed, resulting in weak bones that are more likely to break.
About 40 million Americans either have osteoporosis or are at high risk of getting it. Older women are more affected because estrogen, the hormone that keeps bone replacement in check, decreases after menopause.
Women like Sandra Crain, 83, welcome the study's findings.
"My friends my age have osteoporosis," she said. "It's very common and we can all use a bit more wine. Why not?"
But researchers warn not to drink too much.
"Excessive alcohol consumption is detrimental to bone health, but in this moderate range it is beneficial," Iwaniec said.
And they say eating a healthy diet, taking calcium and exercising will also go a long way to keeping bones healthy.
When the women resumed drinking after two weeks, their rates of bone turnover returned to the previous lower levels. Most of the women in the study drank wine.
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