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Binge Drinking Affects Bone Health

Previous studies have suggested that binge drinking can affect an individual’s bone strength and mass making it a risk factor for osteoporosis. A recently completed study at the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine has found the mechanism for this action. Research discovered that alcohol affects the genes that work to maintain bone health.

The result of the study can aid in the development of new treatments and drugs that can minimize bone loss among alcohol addicts. These treatments may also even prove to be helpful for those who are not dependent on alcohol but are manifesting a high risk for developing osteoporosis.

“Of course, the best way to prevent alcohol-induced bone loss is to not drink or to drink moderately,” says the study’s author, bone biologist John Callaci, PhD. “But when prevention doesn’t work, we need other strategies to limit the damage.”

The said study on the effects of alcohol on the bones was published in the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, individuals who abuse alcohol are also suffering from calcium deficiency. Drinking can also have a huge effect on the body’s supply of this mineral and excessive alcohol-intake can increase the risk of broken bones and falls. The foundation, therefore, recommends that individuals take no more than two drinks per day.

The University’s Alcohol Research Program was one of the first to show that rat administered with large amounts of alcohol manifest a reduction in bone mineral density and strength. Interestingly, however, experts have yet to explain the actual mechanisms that drive these effects.

In this particular study, the researchers administered a pre-determined amount of alcohol that is akin to the amount considered as binge drinking was administered to rats for three days or for four weeks to elicit chronic alcoholism. The study was focused on genes that are responsible for maintaining the health of the bones. The research found that alcohol has a considerable effect on the amount of RNA in these genes. In certain genes, alcohol appeared to cause the amount of RNA to go up while other genes experienced a reduction. “Changing the amounts of RNA disrupted two molecular pathways responsible for normal bone metabolism and maintenance of bone mass. These pathways are called the Wnt signaling pathway and the Intergrin signaling pathway.”

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