How Does Alcohol Affect Bone Health?

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Alcohol can increase the risk of osteoporosis and other signs of poor bone health, particularly when consumed in excess. If you experience a fracture, or have low bone density, limiting your alcohol use or abstaining from alcohol is recommended.

Alcohol Affects On Bone Health

Research shows that your bone health can be influenced by a number of factors, including age, and overall health, as well as your dietary and drinking habits.

Alcohol abuse, particularly in the elderly population, can increase the risk for adverse effects on bone density, bone formation, and related health issues.

What Are The Effects Of Alcohol On Bone Health?

Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to a number of adverse effects on bone health, including a heightened risk of osteoporotic fractures and delays in healing.

For optimal health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends limiting your alcohol intake to one drink per day (for women) or two drinks per day (for men).

Risks of heavy drinking on health can include:

  • increased risk of bone fractures
  • inhibited bone formation
  • interferes with bone remodeling
  • thinning of the bones (loss of bone mass)
  • reduced bone strength
  • delays in bone healing
  • increased risk for bone disease (e.g. osteoporosis)

What Causes Alcohol-Induced Bone Damage?

The exact cause of alcohol’s harmful effects on bone health is not entirely clear.

Researchers believe it may be tied to alcohol’s effects on the absorption of certain vitamins, as well as hormone imbalances, associated lifestyle factors, and the inhibited formation of osteoblasts.

The Link Between Alcohol And Formation Of Bones

Osteoblasts are cells that create new bone cells.

Some research indicates alcohol may disrupt osteoblast activity, and thereby suppress the formation and maintenance of healthy bones.

Does Alcohol Affect Bone Density?

Excessive drinking can have a negative impact on bone mineral density (BMD), which refers to the amount of bone mineral in your bone tissue.

Alcohol abuse, which is often characterized by chronic, heavy drinking, can increase the risk for bone diseases such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Can Alcohol Cause Osteopenia?

Osteopenia is an early stage of osteoporosis, or low bone density.

This is characterized by weaker, more brittle bones, which can increase the risk for fractures and other injuries.

Excessive alcohol use can increase the risk for bone loss, particularly among those who have other risk factors, such as older age, smoking, and a low-calcium diet.

Can Alcohol Cause Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a more advanced stage of osteopenia. The development of this condition, like osteopenia, can be influenced by your drinking habits.

Other risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • older age
  • female sex
  • low body weight
  • cigarette smoking
  • history of bone fractures
  • family history of bone disease
  • low testosterone
  • low estrogen
  • menopause
  • chronic malnutrition

Osteoporosis is uncommon in young adults. Among the elderly, this is more common due to the natural deterioration of peak bone mass over time, as well as menopause in women.

What Are The Risks Of Poor Bone Health?

Weak or brittle bones can increase the risk for falls, injuries, hip fractures, and other quality-of-life issues, such as your ability to participate in vigorous exercise.

Alcohol use can also increase your risk for falls and injuries, due to its known effects on coordination, decision-making, balance, and more.

Can You Prevent Low Bone Density?

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, over 54 million Americans have osteoporosis, with older adults over 50 and postmenopausal women being at the highest risk.

But there are measures that you can take to support proper bone health, particularly if you are younger.

Strategies for supporting proper bone health include:

  • ensuring adequate intake of calcium
  • taking vitamin D supplements
  • trying weight-bearing exercises
  • getting regular physical activity in general
  • eating a nutrient-rich diet
  • limiting your alcohol use
  • avoiding smoking
  • limiting your caffeine intake

Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction

Alcohol abuse is a risk factor for osteoporosis.

If you or a loved one are abusing alcohol, getting help for your drinking problem is recommended to prevent or mitigate effects of excessive drinking on bone health.

Treatment for alcohol abuse usually begins with detox. Ideally, this will be received as part of a full alcohol rehab program that is offered through an addiction treatment center.

While detoxing from alcohol at home is possible in certain circumstances, this can increase your risk of potential complications from alcohol withdrawal and your likelihood for relapse.

Find An Alcohol Detox Program Today

Our free and confidential helpline can help connect you or a loved one with addiction to an alcohol rehab program that is best able to meet your needs for treatment.

Don’t wait to learn about available treatment options near you. Call or contact us online to find treatment options for alcohol abuse today.

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