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Quitting Drinking May Help Alcoholics' Bone Loss
Date:9/14/2012

FRIDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Alcoholics who stop drinking and engage in physical activity can help reverse bone loss suffered as a result of their addiction, according to a new study.

Bone renews itself through a continual remodeling process, which excessive alcohol consumption disrupts. Austrian researchers found that avoiding alcohol for just eight weeks can help correct the imbalance between bone formation and resorption that results from alcoholism. Exercise also can help protect against reduced bone mineral density, they said.

The study appears online Sept. 14 in advance of print publication in the December issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"This study contributes to our understanding of various deteriorating effects of long-term consumption of high amounts of alcohol on the human body," Sergei Mechtcheriakov, associate professor of psychiatry at the Medical University Innsbruck, said in a journal news release.

"We can see that even bone tissue, which is often wrongly perceived as inert, can be affected by alcoholism," he said. "It would seem that a combination of direct toxic effects of alcohol and its metabolites on bone tissue turnover -- as well as lifestyle factors, such as low physical activity -- may play a significant role."

In conducting the study, 53 men in rehab for alcoholism underwent bone-density tests. The participants, who were between ages 21 and 50, had blood drawn when the study began and again after eight weeks of treatment. They also completed a questionnaire on how much physical activity they got before they began treatment.

"We found that [bone mineral density] is reduced in alcoholic men without liver disease," Peter Malik, the study's corresponding author and a senior scientist and physician at the university, said in the news release. "However, the initial imbalance between bone formation and resorption seems to straigh
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