ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
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Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
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Birds Don't Miss a Beat
Insight on Herbals Eludes Doctors, Patients Alike
ANIMAL CARE
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Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Sea Worm Inspires Novel Bone Glue
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
CANCER
Get to Know the Pap Test
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Just Say No to Nuts During Pregnancy
Trans Fat Labeling Gets Tricky
Coffee Drinkers Might Live Longer
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Green Areas Lower Health Inequities Between Rich, Poor
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Most Mt. Everest Deaths Occur Near Summit During Descent
EYE CARE, VISION
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
FITNESS
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Man Dies of Brain Inflammation Caused by Deer Tick Virus
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Biomarkers May Help Measure Rate of Decline in Dementia
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
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Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
PAIN
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Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
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Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
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A Little Drink May Be Good for Your Bones

WEDNESDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- Older men and postmenopausal women who have one or two glasses of beer or wine a day appear to have stronger bones than both nondrinkers and heavy drinkers, a new study suggests.

Moderate drinking has been associated with decreasing the risk for heart disease, but it also has been linked to increasing the risk for some cancers. And though their study found that beer and wine could be beneficial to bone strength, the researchers cautioned that people need to balance the risks and benefits of alcohol with their individual health concerns.

"We were looking at the relationship between different types of alcohol and bone mineral density [BMD] because there is a controversy about how it might affect bone," said lead researcher Katherine L. Tucker, director of the Dietary Assessment and Epidemiology Research Program at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.

Alcohol was protective of BMD in older men and postmenopausal women, Tucker said, "but we didn't see any relationship in premenopausal women."

Among women, she said, wine was very protective, and in men, beer was the most protective, "partly because men drink more beer and women drink more wine," she said. Drinking liquor was less protective, she added.

And men who had more than two drinks a day actually had the lowest BMD, Tucker said.

What that suggests is that the relationship is complex but there might be components in beer and wine that could help protect bone. For example, beer contains silicon, which has been associated with stronger bone. In wine, polyphenols, which have been linked to protection from heart disease, might also protect bone, she said.

The report is published in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

For the study, Tucker's team collected data on 1,289 postmenopausal women, 248 premenopausal women and 1,182 men who took part in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study, an offshoot of the original Framingham Heart Study. The researchers looked at data on their drinking habits and took BMD measurements in their hips and spine.

Men who had one to two drinks of beer or alcohol a day had about 3 percent to 4 percent higher hip BMD than nondrinkers, the study found. In postmenopausal women who had more than two alcoholic drinks a day, including wine, hip and spine BMD measurements were found to be 5 percent to 8 percent greater than in women who didn't drink.

Although moderate drinking improved BMD, men who had more than two drinks a day had hip and spine BMD measurements 3 percent to 5 percent lower than in men who drank less, the study reported.

"Moderate intake of beer or wine is good for bone, but heavy drinking is bad," Tucker said. Heavy drinking is a major risk factor for osteoporosis, she added.

In addition, postmenopausal women have to balance the fact that any alcohol is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer, Tucker said.

"You really need to think about your own health risks and your family history and balance those," she said. "If your primary concerns are heart disease and osteoporosis, then a glass or two of wine is probably helpful. But if your primary concern is breast cancer, you really need to be careful of any alcohol."

Even moderate drinking can increase the risk of cancer in postmenopausal women, according to a study published in the Feb. 24 online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The study, which included more than 1.2 million middle-age women, found that moderate drinking accounts for 13 percent of breast, liver, rectum and upper respiratory/digestive tract cancers.

Dr. Robert P. Heaney, a bone and nutrition expert at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., said he agreed that moderate drinking is good for bone.

"This study should be taken as confirmatory," Heaney said. "As the authors note, a bone benefit from moderate alcohol consumption has been described several times previously. The current study sought mainly to tie up some of the loose ends around the previously described findings."

"It can be said to boil down to the three basic features of good nutrition: moderation, variety and balance," he said. "Or, put another way: A little bit is better than none, and too much is too much."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on bone health.



SOURCES: Katherine L. Tucker, Ph.D., director, Dietary Assessment and Epidemiology Research Program, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston; Robert P. Heaney, M.D., professor, medicine, Creighton University, Omaha, Neb.; April 2009 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Last Updated: March 18, 2009

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