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Osteoporosis Message Board

Osteoporosis Board Index

This is from the NIH website:

Alcohol disrupts calcium balance in many ways. To begin with, alcohol exposure increases PTH levels. In cases of chronic alcohol abuse, blood levels of parathyroid hormone can remain elevated, resulting in a strain on the body's calcium reserves. In alcoholics, continuous elevations in parathyroid hormone can precipitate the condition known as secondary hyperparathyroidism, the effects of which further deplete calcium stores.

Alcohol can inhibit the production of enzymes found in the liver and kidney that convert the inactive form of vitamin D to its active form. This interference in vitamin D metabolism results in an impairment of calcium absorption. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, a bone condition associated with pain, fractures and deformity. Alcohol also increases magnesium excretion, an effect that can further negatively impact bone health.

Alcohol, Hormones, and Other Metabolic Effects

Chronic heavy drinking can result in hormonal deficiencies in both men and women. Alcoholic men tend to produce less testosterone, a hormone known for its positive effect on bone density. Low testosterone levels have been linked to decreased activity of osteoblasts, the cells that stimulate bone formation.

In pre-menopausal women, chronic alcohol exposure can result in irregular menstrual cycles, an occurrence that increases osteoporosis risk.

Alcoholics have been shown to have high levels of cortisol, a corticosteroid. Excessive levels of cortisol have been linked to decreased bone formation and increased bone resorption. Corticosteroids impair calcium absorption which leads to an increase in PTH secretion, which can result in further bone loss.

Bone loss is evident in a large number of individuals that drink heavily. Alcohol appears to have a direct toxic effect on osteoblasts, suppressing bone formation.

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