Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Cheers To Stronger Bones

Wine and beer can help build bones by boosting oestrogen levels, but only if drunk in moderation.

A study published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition suggests that a glass or two of wine or beer everyday could help to keep bones strong.

However, drinking more – and choosing hard liquor instead of wine or beer – may actually weaken bones, Dr Katherine Tucker of Tuffs University in Boston and her colleagues found.

Dr Tucker told Reuters Health that the study saw that the effect of alcohol on bone mineral density was “larger than what we see for any single nutrient, even for calcium. It’s not ambiguous. It’s very clear.”

The researchers investigated how different types of alcohol affected bone density (BMD) in 1,182 men, 1,289 post-menopausal women and 248 pre-menopausal women aged 29 to 86 years.

Men who had a glass or two of wine or beer daily had denser bones than non-drinkers, the researchers found, but those who downed two or more servings of hard liquor a day had significantly lower BMD than the men who drink up to two glasses of liquor daily.

Dr Tucker noted that beer is an excellent source of silicon, a mineral needed for bone health that has become increasingly rare in modern diet.

Beer’s silicon content accounted for at least some of its bone-building effects in men. However, too few women drank beer to draw conclusions about how the mineral affected female bone density.

Beer and wine may be better for people than liquor, she suggested, because they contain potentially beneficial plant substances such as resveratrol, while hard liquor has had most natural substances distilled out of it.

Alcohol may help build bones by boosting oestrogen levels – which is the mechanism that also may account for the increased breast cancer risk seen in women who drink even moderately.

“The main message here is that if you are drinking up to one or two glasses of wine or beer a day, you don’t need to stop for your bones’ sake,” Dr Tucker said. “In fact, it’s helpful.

- The New York Times 

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