Bone density in relation to alcohol intake among men and women in the United States

Osteoporos Int. 2007 Mar;18(3):391-400. doi: 10.1007/s00198-006-0249-0. Epub 2006 Nov 8.


Studies of postmenopausal women have shown a positive association between BMD and alcohol intake. We found that BMD was higher in men, and possibly postmenopausal women, who drank alcohol compared with those who abstained. Drinking alcohol, but not binge drinking, may benefit bone health of men and postmenopausal women.

Introduction: Osteoporotic fractures account for over 2.5 million physician visits annually for persons ages >or=45 years in the United States. Studies of postmenopausal women show a positive association between bone mineral density (BMD) and alcohol intake, but for men and premenopausal women, the bone-alcohol relationship remains unclear. We examined the association between total hip (TH) and femoral neck (FN) BMD and alcohol intake of men and pre- and postmenopausal women.

Methods: We conducted multiple regression analyses using data from 13,512 persons ages >or=20 years from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. Alcohol intake and binge drinking were measured by questionnaire and hip BMD by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA).

Results: Accounting for covariates, TH BMD was higher in men (n = 6,868) who had 5-29 (+2.1%, p < 0.01) and >29 drinking occasions/month (+1.7%, p < 0.05) than men who abstained. BMD of premenopausal women (n = 4,136) who drank alcohol did not differ from those who abstained. FN BMD was 3.8% higher in postmenopausal women (n = 2,043) who had >29 drinking occasions/month than those who abstained (p = 0.06). Binge drinking was not associated with BMD of men or women.

Conclusions: Drinking alcohol, but not binge drinking, appears to be beneficial to bone health of men and possibly postmenopausal women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / physiopathology*
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Ethanol / poisoning
  • Female
  • Femur Neck / physiology
  • Health Surveys
  • Hip Joint / physiology
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / physiology
  • Premenopause / physiology
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Ethanol