Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size

Bottoms Up

To Your Health

Stronger Bones and Sharper Minds

But perhaps the most startling news of all came in studies suggesting that moderate drinkers may cut their risk of osteoporosis -- age-related bone thinning related to calcium loss. A report in the American Journal of Epidemiology in April 2000 showed that women who drank 11 to 29 grams of alcohol a day -- the equivalent of one to three glasses of wine -- had greater bone mineral density, measured in the hip region of their thighbones, than nondrinkers or heavy drinkers. Bone mineral density is the measure physicians use to determine bone strength and resilience.

That news was quickly followed by an equally encouraging report in November in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Testing nearly 500 elderly women, researchers from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., found that bone mineral density was 12% to 16% higher among moderate drinkers, compared with nondrinkers.

And women aren't the only ones who may benefit. In a study published in the journal Osteoporosis International in November 2000, Finnish scientists tested 143 men aged 54-63. Compared to nondrinkers, the men who enjoyed a glass or two of alcohol a day also showed signs of greater bone mineral density.

How to Drink to Your Health

A healthy heart. Protection against cancer. Stronger bones. With health benefits like those, you'd think doctors would be handing out prescriptions for wine by the padful.

Yet despite the encouraging findings, many physicians are reluctant to advise nondrinkers to begin drinking. With good reason: While moderate drinking appears to offer some impressive health benefits, excessive drinking can be deadly. It remains a sad truth that hundreds of thousands of Americans die of liver disease and in automobile accidents caused by drunk drivers every year.

Even the health benefits associated with wine disappear when people drink too much. For example, the studies cited above indicating greater bone density for women who were moderate drinkers also found that those who drank to excess may actually have had thinner bones by comparison. And not surprisingly, the results from the Seven Countries Study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in August 2000 suggested that heavy drinkers died almost two years earlier on average than moderate drinkers, although (perhaps surprisingly) the moderate drinkers outlived the nondrinkers by the same amount.

So far, there's little agreement on exactly what "moderate" drinking means. Until medical science is better at defining the "right" amount, limiting yourself to only two glasses a day if you're a man, and one if you're a woman, and then only after discussing it with your physician, is probably prudent.

"To life," the traditional drinking toast goes. To which most researchers would add another: "In moderation."

1|2

Today on WebMD

vegetables
Video
Woman trying clothes / dress
Assessment
 
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Article
Hot cup of coffee
Quiz
 
woman shopping fresh produce
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens
 

Special Sections