You may have one more reason to say cheers - to beer now. Drinking beer regularly could stop bones from going brittle, according to scientists in Spain.
A study found that the bones of women who drink beer regularly are stronger, making them less likely to suffer from osteoporosis.
It is thought that the high level of silicon in beer slows down the thinning that leads to fractures and boosts the formation of new bone, the journal Nutrition reports.
Beer is also rich in phytoestrogens, plant versions of oestrogen, which keep bones healthy.
Bones are made up of a mesh of fibres, minerals, blood vessels and marrow, and healthy ones are denser with smaller spaces between the different parts.
The researchers asked almost 1,700 healthy women with an average age of 48 about their drinking habits. They then underwent ultrasound scans of their hands, which showed the bones belonging to beer drinkers to be denser.
The women's hands were chosen because the bones in the fingers are among the first to show signs of osteoporosis, a disease of bone that leads to an increased risk of fracture.
Those who had less than a pint a day, whom scientists classed as light beer drinkers, fared just as well as those in the moderate bracket, suggesting that even small amounts can boost bone health.
The Spanish researchers said: "Silicon plays a major role in bone formation. Beer has been claimed to be one of the most important sources of silicon in the Western diet."
UK's National Osteoporosis Society said that while it welcomed measures to improve bone health, it did not recommend anyone increased alcohol consumption on the basis of the study. "Indeed, consuming more than four units of alcohol per day is known to increase the risk of breaking bones as a result of osteoporosis,"
stated a spokesperson for the charity.
Earlier researchers from Tufts medical center, US found a particular link was found moderate wine or beer drinking could lead to increased bone strength. All test subjects were between 26 to 89 years of age, according to the findings.
Lead researcher Katherine Tucker suggested that when compared to abstainers, hip bone mineral density (BMD) in men consuming alcohol products at a rate of 1 to 2 drinks a day was 2.4 to 4.5 per cent higher. The findings suggested a similar pattern in post menopausal women, where a daily intake of 2 drinks of alcohol or wine was linked to improved BMD in the hips and spine by 5 to 8.3 per cent.
The study suggested that a number of mechanisms may explain the studies conclusions such as the present of silicon in beer, which in the form of Orthosilicic Acid could help promote bone formation at moderate levels.
The findings also supported the possibility that estrogenic resveratrol in wine could help reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women with low estrogen status, according to the researchers.
The study conceded that it failed to quantify the levels of resveratrol exposure in respondents from wine though.
According to the research, which tested three areas in the hips and the lumbar spine to measure done density, the conclusions will add weight to previous research suggesting that certain alcohol products may offer potential health benefits at low doses.
Although the study suggested a predominant pattern of men opting for beers and the fairer sex drinking wines, Tucker said that any specific benefits of individual classes of alcohol on bone health had not been investigated. "However, they illustrate that the benefits appear most clearly from beer and wine intake, which suggests that factors in addition to ethanol may exert protective effects,"
stated the report. "They also extend earlier findings to suggest that the positive effect of alcohol intake in men peaks at 1 to 2 drinks a day and provide evidence that these benefits decline with higher intakes."
Although the findings found no association between moderate alcohol intake in premenopausal women and their BMD, linear benefits were attributed by the research to postmenopausal respondents' bones after consuming two glasses of wine and possibly even spirits. Potential health impacts of beer were found to be similar, but not discernable in the same survey group, according to the research.