Objectives: To study the effects of alcohol consumption on bone mineral density in a defined population.
Design: Prospective study of bone mineral density, measured during 1988-91, in a cohort who had given baseline data on alcohol intake in the previous week and in the previous 24 hours and other factors affecting bone mineral density during 1973-5.
Setting: Rancho Bernardo, California.
Subjects: 182 men and 267 women aged 45 and over at baseline, half having been randomly selected and half having been chosen for hyperlipidaemia, who gave baseline information on alcohol intake in one week. Of these subjects, 142 men and 220 women gave information on alcohol intake in 24 hours.
Main outcome measures: Bone mineral density of the radial shaft, ultradistal wrist, femoral neck, and lumbar spine.
Results: Men and women were considered separately, and the tertiles of alcohol consumption were used to delineate low, medium, and high values of alcohol intake. With increasing alcohol intake in one week, bone mineral density (adjusted for age, body mass index, smoking, taking exercise, and oestrogen replacement therapy in women) increased significantly in the femoral neck of men (p < 0.01) and the spine of women (p < 0.01). With increasing alcohol intake in 24 hours, adjusted bone mineral density increased significantly in the radial shaft (p < 0.05) and spine (p < 0.001) of women. Similar, but not significant, patterns were seen at the other bone sites.
Conclusions: Social drinking is associated with higher bone mineral density in men and women.