Binge Drinking Could Make It Harder For Broken Bones To Heal

10/07/2013 12:54 pm ET
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Binge drinking could impair the bone-healing process after a fracture, according to a new study in mice.

"In addition to contributing to bone fractures, alcohol also impairs the healing process. So add this to the list of reasons why you should not abuse alcohol," study researcher Roman Natoli, M.D., Ph.D., a resident physician in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, said in a statement.

For the study, presented at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research's annual meeting, researchers fed mice either salt water (as a control) or alcohol (equivalent to three times the legal driving limit).

They looked at the mice's bone healing after they were fed and found that the mice that were given the alcohol had less mineralization of the callus (the tissue at the ends of broken bones), meaning not much new bone was forming, compared with the mice fed the salt water.

Researchers also found that oxidative stress levels were higher in the mice fed alcohol, as well as levels of an oxidative stress-decreasing enzyme. Levels of OPN, a protein known to play a role in recruiting stem cells to the site of a bone fracture, were lower in the mice fed the alcohol.

This isn't the first time alcohol has been shown to be bad for bone healing. The researchers previously found that alcohol negatively affects genes linked with bone health in a 2008 study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

"We found that the expressions of certain genes important for maintaining bone integrity are disturbed by alcohol exposure," study researcher John Callaci, Ph.D., said in a statement.

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