Objective: To study the effect of beer consumption on bone mass in a group of healthy women, by using phalangeal bone ultrasound to evaluate the amplitude-dependent speed of sound.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 1697 healthy women (mean age 48.4 y, body mass index (BMI) 19.0-32.0 kg/m(2)), recruited in a clinical convenience sample and screened for the existence of disease and/or medication that would affect calcium metabolism. Of this total, 710 were premenopausal, 176 were perimenopausal, and 811 were postmenopausal. The women recruited completed a questionnaire that contained detailed sections on current cigarette, alcohol, caffeine, and nutrient consumption. In terms of current alcohol intake, the subjects were classified as moderate drinkers, light drinkers, and nondrinkers. Drinkers were also analyzed according to the kind of alcohol consumed: wine or beer.
Results: Quantitative bone ultrasound values were greater in the beer drinkers compared with the no beer and/or wine drinkers. Taking the amplitude-dependent speed of sound as a dependent variable, and age, BMI, gonadal status, intake of beer and wine, and number of cigarettes per day as independent variables, we found age (beta = -1.52), BMI (beta = -3.86), gonadal status (beta = -27.47), and beer intake (beta = 1.06) to be significant.
Conclusion: The greater bone density found in women beer drinkers might be a result of the phytoestrogen content of this alcoholic drink; this requires further investigation.