ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
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Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
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Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
ANIMAL CARE
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BONES & JOINTS
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
CANCER
Breast Self-Exam Rates Go Up With Counseling
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
CAREGIVING
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
DIABETES
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Coffee Drinking Lowers Women's Stroke Risk
'Organic' May Not Mean Healthier
To Feel Better, Low-Fat Diet May Be Best
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Fish in U.S. Rivers Tainted With Common Medications
Hairspray Exposure Ups Risk for Birth Defect in Sons
Cats Can Trigger Eczema in Some Infants
EYE CARE, VISION
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
FITNESS
Maximize Your Run
Any Exercise Good After a Heart Attack
As Temperature Plummets, It's Still Safe to Exercise
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Dr Churchill & Ashley Pelton Interview 1 of 4
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Optimism May Boost Immune System
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
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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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