Binge drinking slows healing of broken bones
Drinking too much alcohol can slow down the healing process of bone fractures, a new study concludes.
The research, presented during the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research’s annual meeting in Baltimore, is the first of its kind to show how alcohol slows bone healing on cellular and molecular levels.
Researchers used mice to examine the effects of alcohol consumption on bone healing. They exposed one group of mice to alcohol levels equating to about three times the legal limit for driving. In the control group, researchers exposed mice to equal amounts of salt water.
The findings showed that alcohol impaired the healing process of bone fractures in three ways. First, in the mice exposed to alcohol, the bone tissue surrounding the fractured bones were less mineralized, which means that not as much bone was forming. The bone that did form was not as strong as the healing bones in the control group mice.
Secondly, the mice exposed to alcohol experienced more oxidative stress, which impairs normal cellular functions. And thirdly, the mice that were exposed to alcohol had lower levels of a certain protein that plays a significant role in the bone’s healing abilities.
Researchers said that they are planning a follow-up experiment, in which they would test two potential treatments for countering the negative effects of alcohol on bone healing.