Osteoporosis International

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 396–403

Bone mineral density and fractures among alcohol-dependent women in treatment and in recovery


    • College of NursingUniversity of Iowa
  • MaryFran R. Sowers
    • Department of Epidemiology, School of Public HealthUniversity of Iowa
  • Farideh Dekordi
    • College of NursingUniversity of Iowa
  • Sara Nichols
    • College of NursingUniversity of Iowa
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00198-003-1387-2

Cite this article as:
Clark, M.K., Sowers, M.R., Dekordi, F. et al. Osteoporos Int (2003) 14: 396. doi:10.1007/s00198-003-1387-2


Women are at higher risk for osteoporosis, but most of the literature examining the effect of alcohol abuse on bone mineral density (BMD) has been in men. The aim of this study was to determine differences in BMD and fracture prevalence among women in treatment for alcohol abuse, in recovery and non-alcohol-dependent women. This cross-sectional study was completed at two residential substance abuse centers in Iowa (USA). The patients were Caucasian women, aged 18–70 years, in treatment for alcohol abuse and dependence (n=228); in recovery and abstaining from alcohol (n=156); and women with no history of alcohol abuse (n=447). The main outcome measures were femoral neck and lumbar spine BMD measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA); self-reported lifetime fracture prevalence. After adjusting for age and menopausal status, women in treatment had BMDs that were 7.7% (p<0.01) and 6.3% (p<0.01) lower at the femoral neck and lumbar spine, respectively, than non-alcohol-abusing women, and 4.8% lower at both bone sites (p<0.01) than women in recovery. Femoral neck BMD of women in recovery was 3.1% lower (p<0.01) than in non-alcohol-dependent women; however, the difference was not significant following multivariate analysis. Women in treatment and recovery reported more fractures during childhood and early adolescence than non-alcohol-dependent women (p<0.01). Women in recovery also reported significantly greater numbers of fractures following sobriety than their paired non-alcohol-dependent counterparts. Alcohol abuse and dependence was associated with lower femoral neck and lumbar spine BMD. Women with histories of alcohol dependence had a higher lifetime prevalence of fractures, including time periods before the onset of problem drinking and following abstinence, suggesting that factors other than acute intoxication contributed to the greater fracture prevalence.


Alcohol abuseBone mineral densityFracture

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© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2003