Alcohol and Your Bones

Can drinking alcohol affect bone health?

Alcohol can affect almost every organ in the body. Chronic and heavy drinking (alcohol abuse) clearly increases the risk of osteoporosis for both men and women. It is an one of the many risk factor for osteoporosis. It is also important to assess other risk factors for osteoporosis (besides alcohol consumption) by using the appropriate NYSOPEP Risk Assessment: “Osteoporosis Risk Assessment for Premenopausal Women“, for “Postmenopausal Women“, or for “Men“.

How does heavy drinking affect bone health?

There are many reasons why heavy drinking  is bad for bones. Some of the ways alcohol can affect bone health include:

  • It interferes with the bone building cells known as osteoblasts. In fact, excessive alcohol intake may decrease the amount of osteoblast cells and interfere with their ability to form bone.
  • It can cause liver damage that can interfere with the way the body uses nutrients including calcium and vitamin D, two nutrients that are essential for healthy bones.

Does heavy drinking increase the risk for fractures (broken bones)?

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol may affect balance and gait. This can increase the risk for falling. There is an increased risk for fractures related to the trauma from accidental falls that may occur as a result of heavy alcohol consumption. Research has shown that long-term excessive alcohol intake increases the risk for hip fracture, a serious consequence of osteoporosis.

How does occasional drinking affect bone health?

The way alcohol affects bone health is still being studied. For healthy adults, it is generally recommended to drink responsibly and to limit alcohol intake for strong bones and overall good health.

For certain populations such as alcoholics, pregnant women, and underage youth, alcohol intake is detrimental for overall health. Your individual recommendations for alcohol intake including the potential interaction of alcohol with any medications you take should be discussed with your healthcare provider.