The reduction in bone mineral often occurs with alcoholism or heavy drinking.
A news study has found that eight weeks abstinence from alcohol may be enough to restore the balance.
Loss of bone mineral density carries an increased risk of fractures and also has implications for health care budgets because of high rehabilitation costs.
“We can see that even bone tissue, which is often – and wrongly – perceived as inert can be affected by alcoholism” says Prof Sergei Mechtcheriakov at the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria.
“It would semm that a combination of direct toxic effects of alcohol and its metabolites on bone tissue turnover as well as life style factors such as low physical activity may play a significant role.”
The researchers examined 53 men aged between 21 and 50 at an alcohol rehabilitation clinic who had given up drink.
They found that bone mineral density was reduced in alcoholic men without liver disease but the initial imbalance seemed to straighten out during abstinence .
In addition, regular physical exercise seemed to protect the bone in alcoholic patients.
Mechtcheriakov added that even though a full recovery may take months or even years, it is important to remember that it is possible with abstinence.
“It pays to stop drinking or at least reduce alcohol consumption to the low-risk levels recommended by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “We need a better scientific understanding of the multiple consequences of alcoholism and its associated long-term recovery processes, “ he added.
The study will be published in the December 2012 issue of Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research.