Beer lovers, take note! Researchers have discovered that drinking a pint of beer a day may prevent osteoporosis. Apparently it is the ethanol in the beer that inhibits weakening of the bones. Even more amazing is that ethanol may be more effective than calcium at preventing bone loss.
Professor Jonathan Powell, who led the study, said: "This is a very interesting finding. Everyone knows that calcium inhibits bone loss but we found that the ethanol in beer has the same, if not better, effect." (Daily Mail)
This isn't the first time beer has been noted for its bone-building properties. In 2004, a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that high silicon intake, which is found in high levels in beer, has a positive effect on bone density in men and pre-menopausal women. (article)
So does this mean that women in countries such as Germany and the Czech Republic, where beer is a staple, have stronger bones? I'd like to research the rates of osteoporosis in the United States vs. heavy beer-drinking countries. There have been studies that show that heavy intake of meat and dairy products is linked to weaker bones (more on that controversial issue in a future post) so perhaps heavy animal protein intake in certain Northern European and Eastern European countries takes away somewhat from the positive benefits of beer consumption.
I think the research is mounting that Plato was right when he said: "He was a wise man who invented beer."