Men who had one to two drinks of beer or alcohol a day had about 3 percent to 4 percent higher hip BMD than nondrinkers, the study found. In postmenopausal women who had more than two alcoholic drinks a day, including wine, hip and spine BMD measurements were found to be 5 percent to 8 percent greater than in women who didn't drink.
Although moderate drinking improved BMD, men who had more than two drinks a day had hip and spine BMD measurements 3 percent to 5 percent lower than in men who drank less, the study reported.
"Moderate intake of beer or wine is good for bone, but heavy drinking is bad," Tucker said. Heavy drinking is a major risk factor for osteoporosis, she added.
In addition, postmenopausal women have to balance the fact that any alcohol is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer, Tucker said.
"You really need to think about your own health risks and your family history and balance those," she said. "If your primary concerns are heart disease and osteoporosis, then a glass or two of wine is probably helpful. But if your primary concern is breast cancer, you really need to be careful of any alcohol."
Even moderate drinking can increase the risk of cancer in postmenopausal women, according to a study published in the Feb. 24 online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The study, which included more than 1.2 million middle-age women, found that moderate drinking accounts for 13 percent of breast, liver, rectum and upper respiratory/digestive tract cancers.
Dr. Robert P. Heaney, a bone and nutrition expert at Creighton University in Omaha, Ne
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