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article imageDrinking moderate amounts of beer may strengthen bones

By Gemma Fox     Aug 16, 2009 in Health
Spanish researchers have discovered that woman who drink a moderate amount of beer may be helping to strengthen their bones.
BBC News reports on the study of 1,697 women who averaged 48 years old. The study, published by Nutrition Journal, found that bone density was better in regular drinkers than in non-drinkers.
However, the researchers from the University of Extremadura in Caceres, point out that it was more likely to be plant hormones in the beer that caused the effects rather than the alcohol.
The publication of the study has led other experts to repeat warnings that drinking more than two units of alcohol per day is more likely to harm bones.
The researchers said that they did not recommend drinking beer only to help boost bone health but pointed out that further research should be made into phytoestrogens, a beer ingredient as scientists work on finding supplements to allow women to maintain bone strength well into old age. Osteoporosis is a common complaint for post-menopausal women and can increase the risk of serious and disabling bone fractures in later life.
The study itself involved almost 1,700 women volunteers and used an ultrasound scan to measure bone density in their fingers. These results were then cross-checked against their alcohol intake, age and weight.
The study found that women, defined as moderate and light beer drinkers, who consumed up to five units of alcohol a day (280 grams per week) had bone density superior to that of non-drinkers.
Earlier research done at St Thomas' Hospital, London, suggested that eight units of alcohol per week could be beneficial. This newer study echoes those results.
Experts quickly points out that there is a fine line between a healthy does of alcohol and a damaging one.
From the UK's National Osteoporosis Society, Dr Claire Bowring said although the findings mirrored that of other studies the Society would not be recommending women to increase their alcohol consumption.
"While low quantities of alcohol may appear to have bone density benefits, higher intakes have been shown to decrease bone strength, with an alcohol intake of more than two units per day actually increasing the risk of breaking a bone."
"There are also many other health concerns linked with alcohol which cannot be ignored."
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