Is Alcohol an Osteoporosis-Inducing Agent for Young and Middle-Aged Women?

Metabolism. 1993 Jul;42(7):875-81. doi: 10.1016/0026-0495(93)90063-t.


The effects of alcohol abuse on the bone of women have scarcely been investigated, although women are more prone than men to osteoporosis. We studied 19 noncirrhotic female alcoholics (aged 24 to 48 years) hospitalized for 2 weeks for withdrawal and three groups of control women (n = 182). Sixteen patients and all control subjects had regular menstrual cycles. Forearm bone mineral content (BMC) and axial bone mineral density (BMD) were measured by single-photon absorptiometry and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, respectively. Parameters of bone metabolism were analyzed at the beginning and end of the withdrawal period. BMC and BMD did not differ between patients and controls at any of the five measurement sites. On admission, bone formation of the alcoholics was depressed as reflected by osteocalcin levels (-48%, P < .01); it normalized during abstention (P < .01). Urinary hydroxyproline, a parameter of bone resorption, and serum intact parathyroid hormone were at the control level throughout the observation period. Serum ionized calcium level increased by 4% (P < .0001), and serum free fatty acid (FFA) levels decreased by 30% (P < .05) during withdrawal; there was an inverse correlation between changes in these two parameters (r = -.49, P < .05). On admission, serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25-OH-D3] and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25-(OH)2-D3] were reduced by 46% (P < .001) and 16% (P = .16); these did not normalize during abstention. In conclusion, provided that liver cirrhosis and gonadal dysfunction are not contributing, even heavy drinking does not seem to decrease bone mass in young and middle-aged women.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Alcoholism / metabolism
  • Bone Density
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Calcifediol / blood
  • Calcitriol / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / etiology*


  • Calcitriol
  • Calcifediol