Background: Published reports on the effect of alcohol consumption on bone mineral density (BMD) are inconsistent.
Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the relation between alcohol intake and BMD, calcitropic hormones, calcium absorption, and other biochemical indexes of bone and mineral metabolism in elderly women.
Design: The results presented are derived from baseline observations of 489 elderly women (aged 65-77 y) recruited for an osteoporosis study. The nondrinking group comprised 297 women and the drinking group comprised 148 women. Furthermore, the effect of different alcohol intakes (</=28.6, >28.6 to </=57.2, >57.2 to </=142.9, and >142.9 g/wk) was studied.
Results: Women who consumed alcohol had significantly higher spine (10%), total body (4.5%), and midradius (6%) BMD than did nondrinkers. An alcohol intake >28.6 g/wk was associated with higher BMD; maximum effect was seen with an intake of >28.6 to </=57.2 g/wk (16%, 12%, and 14% increase in spine, total body, and midradius BMD, respectively). There was a marked reduction in bone remodeling markers, serum osteocalcin, and the ratio of urinary cross-linked N:-telopeptides of type 1 collagen to creatinine with alcohol consumption, suggesting that increased BMD with alcohol consumption could be due to reduced bone remodeling. Further, serum parathyroid hormone concentrations were significantly lower in alcohol drinkers than in nondrinkers and could be one of the causes of decreased bone resorption.
Conclusions: Moderate alcohol intake was associated with higher BMD in postmenopausal elderly women. The protective effect of alcohol may have been a result of lower bone remodeling due to reduced parathyroid hormone concentrations or factors such as increased estrogen concentrations.