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Alcoholism linked to osteoporosis

Not only brittle bones, alcoholism may also cause low bone mass in young men.

Alcoholism linked to osteoporosis

Not only brittle bones, alcoholism may also cause low bone mass in young men. It well known that alcoholism leads to bone thinning because of the toxic effects on the body's bone-forming cells. However, poor diet and little exercise in alcoholics can drain bone density, which causes osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease resulting in thinning and weakening of bones making them more likely to break. An estimated 6.1 crore Indians are affected by this disease. Drinking excessive coffee or alcohol is one of the several causes. But this disease generally affects men over 50 years of age. To see the association between alcoholism and risk of osteoporosis in young men and women, researchers from Austria identified 57 alcoholic adults aged between 27 and 50 years. It was found that one quarter of the men had lower than normal bone mass. Just 1 of the 20 women the researchers examined had a deficit in bone mass. The latter finding, the researchers speculate, might be explained by the women's relatively high oestrogen levels that, for the time being, may have protected their bone mass. On the other hand, men had no such hormonal protection and showed high deficiency rates of vitamin D, which is important in maintaining bone mass. The above findings suggest that alcoholic patients' lifestyle habits may indeed contribute to waning bone density and even young alcoholics should have their bone mass and bone metabolism screened. Further studies are expected to see whether bone density improves if the alcoholics are able to stop drinking.
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
February 2008
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