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Researchers at Oregon State University looked at 40 early postmenopausal women who regularly had one or two drinks a day, were not on any hormone replacement therapies, and who did not have a history of osteoporosis-related fractures.
They found when the women stopped drinking for two weeks there was an increased rate of bone turnover, which is the constant remodelling of the bone. In women with osteoporosis, more bone is lost than is regenerated, which is a risk factor for osteoporotic fractures.
The researchers said they were also surprised to learn that within a day of the women drinking again, their bone turnover rates returned to previous levels.
"Drinking moderately as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet and exercise may be beneficial for bone health, especially in postmenopausal women," co-author Urszula Iwaniec said in a release about the study Wednesday. "After less than 24 hours to see such a measurable effect was really unexpected."
The study notes past research has shown moderate drinkers have a higher bone density than non-drinkers or heavy drinkers.
This study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Menopause, shows moderate alcohol consumption may be an easier and cheaper alternative to expensive medications to avoid bone loss.