Alcohol And Seniors


About Bones and Alcohol


Some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption can have a beneficial effect on bone mineral density, but others have not. We know that excess alcohol consumption can damage bone, and that people who drink alcohol at high levels are at greater risk of bone thinning and fractures.

New research suggests that older women who consume a calcium-rich diet and occasionally drink small amounts of alcohol may be less likely to have bone thinning than their peers.

In a small study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in December, 2002 researchers looked at the effects of alcohol, caffeine and smoking on the bone mineral density of 136 post-menopausal white women between the ages of 57 to 89. The women were asked about calcium, alcohol and caffeine consumption as well as their history of smoking and exercise habits.

Women who consumed a moderate amount of wine, beer or liquor had a higher bone mineral density than those who did not drink. The average drink size was one beer or one glass of wine a day.

It appears that a small amount of alcohol promotes osteoblasts, which are bone forming cells. On the other hand, alcohol also inhibits osteoclasts, which are bone resorption cells.



Feskanich, D., Korrick, S.A., Greenspan S.L. Et al. (1999) Moderate alcohol consumption and bone density among postmenopausal women. Journal of Women's Health, Vol. 8, 65 73.

Ganry, O., Baudoin, C., & Pardelone, P. (2000). Effect of alcohol intake on bone mineral density in elderly women. The EPIDOS study. American Journal of Epidemiolology, Vol. 151, 773 780.

Grainge, M.J., Coupland, C.A., Cliffe S.J., et al (1998). Cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. The Nothingham EPIC Study Group. Osteoporosis International. Vol. 8, 355 363.

Ilich, J., Brownbill, R.A. Tamborini, L. et al. (2002). To Drink or Not to Drink: How Are Alcohol, Caffeine and Past Smoking Related to Bone Mineral Density in Elderly Women? Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 21, No. 6, 536-544. Fulltext online:

Rapuri, P.B., Gallagher J.C., Kinyamu, H.K., et al. (2001). Caffeine intake increases the rate of bone loss in elderly women and interacts with vitamin D receptor genotypes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 74, 694 700.

Turner, R.T. & Sibonga, J.D. Effects of Alcohol Use and Estrogen on Bone.


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