It appears that alcohol-induced bone loss resulting from excessive binge-alcohol drinking can be prevented by vitamin D or the anti-osteoporosis drug BonivaŪ (ibandronate), a Loyola University Health System study shows.
"Repetitive binge-alcohol drinking reduces bone mass, which is detrimental to youngsters and young adults, and increases the rate of bone loss in osteoporotic post-menopausal women," said principal study investigator Dr. Frederick Wezeman, professor of orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation, and associate dean, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill.
The underlying reason is that bone mass peaks when people are in their mid-20s and is progressively reduced as they age. "Before that, in the teen and young adult years, the skeleton is developing and requires exercise, calcium, vitamin D and good nutrition to achieve optimal health," said Wezeman, director, musculoskeletal biology research laboratory, Loyola University Health System, Maywood, Ill.
"This sets the stage for how healthy your bones will be in subsequent decades when requirements for calcium and vitamin D intake increase," he said. "Postmenopausal women already at risk for osteoporosis are especially susceptible to alcohol-induced bone damage.
"We do feel it important to share the research findings as they may provide therapeutic intervention for individuals affected by alcohol abuse," said Wezeman.
It also points to the importance of keeping your bones healthy, Wezeman noted.
Youngsters who spend hours indoors sitting in front of a computer and surfing the Web are putting their bones at risk. They should be active out-of-doors, weight-conscious, and properly nourished for calcium and vitamin D intake.
"Teen and young adult "Web potatoes" face future bone problems even without drinking," said Wezeman. "If they go on binge-drinking sprees on top of that, they can harm their bones even more."
Bone is a constantly changing tissue. Don't take your skeleton for granted, Wezeman cautioned.
"Of course individuals should speak to their physician, but generally adults need 1,200 - 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily plus they should get 600 - 800 IUs of vitamin D," said Wezeman. "For a long time, the standard thought was 400 IUs of vitamin D was enough; now we know more is needed."
Bone health will help reduce older people's risk of fracture if they fall.