Dr. Adrian Lau, Dr. Rowena Ridout, Dr. Claudia Gagnon, Dr. Zahra Bardai, and Dr. Emma Billington.
Recommendations from Osteoporosis Canada Rapid Response Team.
What is a safe amount of alcohol intake?
The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) published “Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health: Final Report” in January 2023. These new 2023 guidelines tell us that there is a continuum of risk for alcohol-related harms. For healthy individuals, the risk is low with 2 drinks per week, moderate with 3-6 drinks per week, and increasingly high with more than 6 drinks per week.
Previously, Canada’s 2011 “Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines” recommended that to reduce our long-term health risks, women should have less than 10 drinks* per week, and men should have less than 15 drinks per week.
How does that relate to my bone health?
CCSA’s new guidelines do not specifically address the relationship between alcohol intake and fractures or osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Canada’s guidance with regards to alcohol states: “Research shows an increased risk of osteoporosis for those who regularly consume 3 or more alcoholic drinks per day. Increased alcohol intake also contributes to increased risk for falls and is often associated with poor nutrition.” (https://osteoporosis.ca/risk-factors/)
Research shows that fracture risk is increased with having 3 or more alcoholic drinks per day. However, at this time, there are no studies available that provide information on whether lower alcohol intake (2 drinks per week or less), results in a reduced fracture risk. The relationship between alcohol intake and bone density or osteoporosis is unclear.
What should I do?
Even though an increased risk of fractures was not seen with 2 drinks per day (or 14 drinks per week), we recommend that you discuss these new 2023 CCSA recommendations with your physician to reduce your risk of alcohol-related consequences.
* Note: In Canada, a standard drink is:
· A bottle of beer (12 oz., 341 ml, 5% alcohol)
· A bottle of cider (12 oz., 341 ml, 5% alcohol)
· A glass of wine (5 oz., 142 ml, 12% alcohol)
· A shot glass of spirits (1.5 oz., 43 ml, 40% alcohol)
Scientific Advisory Council
Osteoporosis Canada’s rapid response team, made up of members of the Scientific Advisory Council, creates position statements as news breaks regarding osteoporosis. The position statements are used to inform both the healthcare professional and the patient. The Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) is made up of experts in Osteoporosis and bone metabolism and is a volunteer membership.