Researchers at Boston University Medical Center said their study involved 40 healthy postmenopausal women of an average age of 56.
The authors measured factors that relate to osteoporosis -- body fails to form enough new bone, when too much old bone is reabsorbed by the body, or both -- in postmenopausal women who were consuming alcohol. They were tested after they drank about two small glasses a day for a period, after they stopped drinking for a period and again after they had resumed alcohol consumption.
The weakness of the bones in postmenopausal women results from an imbalance between the normal resorption -- dissolving of old bone -- and the laying down of new bone, an ongoing process for both men and women referred to as "bone turnover."
After menopause, the resorption of old bone in women continues but new bone is laid down less well, leading to a decrease in bone density, the researchers said. Why that happens is mostly a mystery to medical experts.
The study, published in the journal Menopause, showed abstinence from alcohol resulted in increased markers of bone turnover -- higher risk of developing osteoporosis -- whereas resumption of alcohol consumption reduced bone turnover markers.