Plant hormones not alcohol may be responsible
Women who drink moderate amounts of beer may be strengthening their bones, according to Spanish researchers.
Their study of almost 1,700 women, published in the journal Nutrition, found bone density was better in regular drinkers than non-drinkers. But the team added that plant hormones in the beer rather than the alcohol may be responsible for the effects. Experts urged caution, warning that drinking more than two units of alcohol a day was known to harm bone health.
The study authors, from the University of Extremadura in Caceres, said they did not recommend anyone drank beer to boost bone health, but said that ingredients of beer called phytoestrogens deserved further research.
Women defined as ‘light’ or ‘moderate’ beer drinkers, covering consumption of up to 280 grams of alcohol a week – equivalent to up to five units a day, were found to have superior bone density to non-drinkers.
However, experts were quick to point out that the line between a healthy dose of alcohol and a damaging one might be very fine. Dr Claire Bowring, of the UK’s National Osteoporosis Society, said it would not be recommending any woman to increase her alcohol consumption as a result.
‘While low quantities of alcohol may appear to have bone density benefits, higher intakes have been shown to decrease bone strength, with an alcohol intake of more than two units per day actually increasing the risk of breaking a bone,’ she said.