Alcohol and Bones
Given the titles of the past two days' entries, I considered calling this one just "Alcohol," but decided I needed to be more clear. I have written many times in the past about the links/associations between even moderate alcohol use and the risk of an initial diagnosis of breast cancer and the possible increased risk of recurrence. There have been a number of studies that suggest these links, but there continues to be controversy and a number of specific factors that may or may not contribute (e.g. whether a tumor is hormone positive or negative). In the spirit of 'nothing is ever as simple as it seems' or in the spirit of 'wait long enough and there will be conflicting/confounding advice,' here is a new study about the benefit of moderate alcohol intake. Specifically, this study found that post-menopauseal women who had a drink or two a day had a lower risk of osteoporosis. At the risk of being ridiculous, the choice between a good glass of Cabernet and a couple of calcium tablets seems pretty clear to me. (And no one is suggesting that we can stop the calcium!)
Since I am always honest, I admit to my patients, who ask about it, that I have a glass of wine virtually every night. Sometimes I have a gin and tonic or a martini. I have read the studies referenced above, and I appreciate that it may not be the wisest choice, but I am committed to enhancing my quality of life, and, should the cancer recur, I will not blame myself for this indulgence. Each of us must make our own decision about alcohol use and many other things.
Here is the report from Health Day. Per usual, I give you the beginning and then a link:
Ladies, Drink to Your (Bone) Health
Alcohol may help prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, researchers say
By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter
WEDNESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Drinking one or two alcoholic beverages several times a week may improve the bone health of older women and reduce their risk for osteoporosis, a small study suggests.
Bones are living tissue with old bone continually removed and replaced in a process called remodeling. In people with the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, more bone is lost than replaced. Postmenopausal women are at particular risk because of reduced estrogen, a hormone essential for bone strength, the researchers explained.
"This study clearly demonstrates that even small amounts of alcohol have potent actions and can rapidly impact bone metabolism," said lead researcher Urszula Iwaniec, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University.
As part of a healthy lifestyle, "moderate alcohol may slow bone loss by lowering bone turnover," she said. That means it may lower the risk for osteoporosis, she explained.
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