A Beer for Stronger Bones? This Study's Not For You

The researchers concluded: "These findings suggest that higher dietary silicon intake in men and younger women may have salutary effects on skeletal health, especially cortical bone health, that have not been previously recognized."

Another study by the same group published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that moderate consumption of alcohol, including beer, wine, and liquor, was associated with higher bone mineral density in men and postmenopausal women.

But balance these studies against the weight of research suggesting that too much alcohol consumption can lead to a host of negative health effects – including liver disease and some types of cancer – and it is easy to see why the findings of these studies are so counterintuitive.

In fact, Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston, said not only that "There is presently no evidence that drinking any form of alcoholic beverage leads to stronger bones," but he also said that research by he and his colleagues "has shown that alcohol consumption increases risk of fracture, probably by increasing the risk of falls."

And Dr. Stephen Richardson, an endocrinologist at New York University's Langone Medical Center, noted that "alcohol consumption is a risk factor for osteoporosis.

"I would not tell people to drink more beer."

Beer No Bone Saver, Experts Say

So considering the increased fracture risk and the various other problems associated with drinking too much alcohol, experts agree that guzzling beer is not strategy for improving bone health.

"In the absence of bone density values or preferably fracture incidence, it would be premature to tout beer as a preventative or treatment," Richardson said.

Dr. David Katz, director and co-founder of the Yale Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., agreed.

"This is not a reason to drink beer," he said. "This is simply a bit of good news for those who do drink beer already -- yours truly among them."

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