Osteoporosis International

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 1-16

First online:

Alcohol and bone: review of dose effects and mechanisms

  • D. B. MaurelAffiliated withUnité INSERM U658: Caractérisation du Tissu Osseux par Imagerie: Techniques et Applications, CHR OrléansUnité INSERM U658, IPROS Email author 
  • , N. BoisseauAffiliated withLaboratoire de Biologie des Activités Physiques et Sportives, Clermont Université, Université Blaise Pascal, EA 3533
  • , C. L. BenhamouAffiliated withUnité INSERM U658: Caractérisation du Tissu Osseux par Imagerie: Techniques et Applications, CHR Orléans
  • , C. JaffreAffiliated withLaboratoire Mouvement, Sport, Santé (M2S), EA 1274, Université de Rennes 2

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Alcohol is widely consumed across the world. It is consumed in both social and cultural settings. Until recently, two types of alcohol consumption were recognized: heavy chronic alcohol consumption or light consumption. Today, there is a new pattern of consumption among teenagers and young adults namely: binge drinking. Heavy alcohol consumption is detrimental to many organs and tissues, including bones, and is known to induce secondary osteoporosis. Some studies, however, have reported benefits from light alcohol consumption on bone parameters. To date, little is known regarding the effects of binge drinking on bone health. Here, we review the effects of three different means of alcohol consumption: light, heavy, and binge drinking. We also review the detailed literature on the different mechanisms by which alcohol intake may decrease bone mass and strength. The effects of alcohol on bone are thought to be both direct and indirect. The decrease in bone mass and strength following alcohol consumption is mainly due to a bone remodeling imbalance, with a predominant decrease in bone formation. Recent studies, however, have reported new mechanisms by which alcohol may act on bone remodeling, including osteocyte apoptosis, oxidative stress, and Wnt signalling pathway modulation. The roles of reduced total fat mass, increased lipid content in bone marrow, and a hypoleptinemia are also discussed.


Alcohol consumption Binge drinking Body composition Bone density Leptin Osteocytes