Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. This leads to increased bone fragility and risk of fracture (broken bones), particularly of the hip, spine, wrist and shoulder. It frequently goes undiagnosed until a fracture occurs, as there are no warning signs or symptoms, and adds to the burden of high health care costs.
Drinking a moderate amount of alcoholic beverages as part of a healthy lifestyle may benefit women’s bone health, lowering their risk of developing osteoporosis. Bones are in a constant state of remodelling with old bone being removed and replaced with new bone tissue. In individuals with osteoporosis, more bone is lost than reformed resulting in porous, weak bones. About 80% of all individuals with osteoporosis are women, and postmenopausal women face an even greater risk because estrogen, a hormone that helps to keep bone remodelling in balance, decreases after menopause. Several studies have shown that moderate drinkers have a higher bone density than non-drinkers or heavy drinkers, but these studies have provided no explanation for the differences in bone density. Researchers reported that the consumption of alcoholic beverages may raise estrogen synthesis or may behave similarly to estrogen by reducing bone turnover, but exactly how alcoholic beverages can reduce the risk of osteoporosis has not yet been clearly established.
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