Osteoporosis International

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

Alcohol and bone: review of dose effects and mechanisms

  • D. B. MaurelEmail author
  • N. Boisseau
  • C. L. Benhamou
  • C. Jaffre


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 



We would like to acknowledge Pr N.L. Fazzalari from the Bone and Joint Research Laboratory, SA Pathology in Adelaide, Australia for the for advice on the English corrections. We also want to thank Pr Rustem Uzbekov, from the Departement des Microscopies, at Tours University, France, for imaging our bones by transmission electron microscopy.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. B. Maurel
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • N. Boisseau
    • 2
  • C. L. Benhamou
    • 1
  • C. Jaffre
    • 3
  1. 1.Unité INSERM U658: Caractérisation du Tissu Osseux par Imagerie: Techniques et Applications, CHR OrléansOrléansFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Biologie des Activités Physiques et SportivesClermont Université, Université Blaise Pascal, EA 3533Clermont-FerrandFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire Mouvement, Sport, Santé (M2S), EA 1274Université de Rennes 2RennesFrance
  4. 4.Unité INSERM U658, IPROSOrleans cedex 01France

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