Alcohol intake and its relationship with bone mineral density, falls, and fracture risk in older men

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2006 Nov;54(11):1649-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2006.00912.x.


Objectives: To examine the association between alcohol intake and problem drinking history and bone mineral density (BMD), falls and fracture risk.

Design: Cross-sectional and prospective cohort study.

Setting: Six U.S. clinical centers.

Participants: Five thousand nine hundred seventy-four men aged 65 and older.

Measurements: Alcohol intake and problem drinking histories were ascertained at baseline. Follow-up time was 1 year for falls and a mean of 3.65 years for fractures.

Results: Two thousand one hundred twenty-one participants (35.5%) reported limited alcohol intake (<12 drinks/y); 3,156 (52.8%) reported light intake (<14 drinks/wk), and 697 (11.7%) reported moderate to heavy intake (> or =14 drinks/wk) in the year before baseline. One thousand one men (16.8%) had ever had problem drinking. In multivariate models, as alcohol intake increased, so did hip and spine BMD (P for trend < .001). Greater alcohol intake was not associated with greater risk for nonspine or hip fractures. Men with light intake, but not moderate to heavy intake, had a lower risk of two or more incident falls (light intake: relative risk (RR) = 0.77, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.65-0.92; moderate to heavy intake: RR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.63-1.10) than abstainers. Men with problem drinking had higher femoral neck (+1.3%) and spine BMD (+1.4%), and a higher risk of two or more falls (RR = 1.59; 95% CI = 1.30-1.94) than those without a history of problem drinking and similar total hip BMD and risk of fracture.

Conclusion: In older men, recent alcohol intake is associated with higher BMD. Alcohol intake and fracture risk is unclear. Light alcohol intake may decrease the risk of falling, but a history of problem drinking increased fall risk.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Ethanol