BETTER BONES FOR WINE DRINKERS?
We have known about the cardiovascular benefits of moderate wine consumption for some while now but did you know that it could also improve bone density, potentially a particular problem amongst elderly women?
A recent study carried out by the Epidimiologie de l'Ostioporose (EPIDOS) medical group in France has indicated that drinking one to three glasses of wine per day may have a positive effect on the bone mass of elderly women, possibly reducing the risk of osteoporosis. However, consuming more than three glasses a day could lead to a detrimental effect on bone density.
The study examined the effect of alcohol on nearly 7,600 women aged 75 years and older. The study began with a series of questionnaires collected at five medical centres in France, between 1992 and 1994
60 percent of the women did not drink alcohol at all. Among the 3,000 drinkers, 1,800 were defined as light drinkers (averaging less than one glass of alcoholic beverages per day), 1,000 were considered moderate drinkers (consuming one to three glasses per day) and 200 were classified as heavy drinkers (taking more than three glasses daily). The majority of the light to moderate drinkers consumed mostly wine, while the heavy drinkers consumed both wine and spirits.
The main purpose of the study was to find out if alcohol had a positive effect on the bone density of elderly women (similar to that of oestrogen-replacement therapy). T X-rays were used to measure the amount of minerals in the upper thigh bones of all the women.
It was found that moderate alcohol use was associated with a significant increase in upper thigh/hip bone mineral density. However, the beneficial effect of alcohol intake on bone mass was no longer present above three glasses of wine per day. The bone mass of the upper thigh was the greatest for moderate drinkers. Light drinkers came next, followed by non-drinkers, with heavy drinkers having the lowest amount of minerals.
Despite the findings of this study, doctors involved in this study are not suggesting drinking in order to build stronger bones. They point out that heavy drinking has long been associated with osteoporosis.
Frank Caddy, chief executive of NIDIG (NI Drinks Industry Group), commented Now that the possibility of improved bone density has been uncovered, I understand that further studies are planned since it has also been established that moderate drinkers tend to lead a more active life anyway. So the different effects of activity and wine consumption need to be analysed and separated. Whatever the results, remember Moderation you know it makes sense!
Reference: The April 15 (2000) issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology