Urszula Iwaniec, associate professor at Oregon State University, and colleagues measured a significant increase in blood markers of bone turnover in women after the subjects stopped drinking for just two weeks.
Bones are in a constant state of remodeling, with old bone being removed and replaced. In people with osteoporosis -- 80 percent of whom are women -- more bone is lost than reformed resulting in porous, weak bones.
Researchers in OSU's Skeletal Biology Laboratory studied 40 early post-menopausal women who regularly had one or two drinks a day, were not on any hormone replacement therapies, and had no history of osteoporosis-related fractures.
The study, published in the journal Menopause, found evidence for increased bone turnover -- a risk factor for osteoporotic fractures -- during the two week period when the participants stopped drinking. The researchers found less than a day after the women resumed their normal drinking, their bone turnover rates returned to previous levels.
"Drinking moderately as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet and exercise may be beneficial for bone health, especially in postmenopausal women," Iwaniec said in a statement. "After less than 24 hours to see such a measurable effect was really unexpected."