Alcohol can make any weekend cookout, Super Bowl Sunday, or girls’ night out a whole lot more enjoyable. At the end of a long work week, it’s nice to kick back with a cold beer, a glass of wine, or something sweet and fruity. Yes, I’m a man who loves cocktails.
Many studies have proven that there are benefits to drinking alcohol. Dark beer, for example, contains antioxidants that can reduce cardiovascular health risk. Wine has similar health benefits. Whiskey is a pain-reducer while vodka can deal with bad breath. All these things are good reasons to enjoy the occasional drink.
Unfortunately, there’s one discovery we all need to know about: drinking more can lead to greater muscle loss.
A study published by The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) found that post-menopausal women who drink a lot of alcohol have a higher risk of sarcopenia, a loss of strength and muscle mass. This muscle mass and strength loss can affect gait, balance, and activities of daily living. The more these women drink, the higher the muscle mass loss.
Over 2,300 post-menopausal women were examined, with more than 8% of them having sarcopenia. The researchers divided them into three categories according to their alcohol consumption. The group that drank the most amount of alcohol at the highest frequency also had the highest risk of sarcopenia. High-risk drinking (including poor perceived self-control, injuries, and drinking-related blackouts) not only had higher instances of muscle mass loss, but they also were more prone to being smokers and having higher cholesterol and blood pressure.
“Preclinical studies suggest a possible benefit of estrogen therapy when combined with exercise to increase strength and performance and to prevent the loss of muscle mass, but the role of estrogen in muscle mass is not yet clear for postmenopausal women,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of NAMS. “With this study suggesting that more muscle loss leads to sarcopenia and other studies suggesting that even one drink of alcohol may increase the risk of breast cancer, postmenopausal women should limit their alcohol intake.”
1. Yu-Jin Kwon, Hyoung-Ji Lim, Yong-Jae Lee, Hye-Sun Lee, John A. Linton, Jae Woo Lee, Hee-Taik Kang. “Associations between high-risk alcohol consumption and sarcopenia among postmenopausal women.” Menopause, 2017.