How Does Alcohol Use Affect Your Bones and Muscles
Everyone knows that the first signs of an alcohol drink is a pleasant sense of relaxation. But did you know that excessive and prolonged alcohol use may seriously affect your skeletal and muscle system?
Alcohol use and bones
Besides assuring structural support, bones represent an enormous storage of calcium and minerals. The human body monitors and distributes the amount of calcium between blood and bone through the action of hormones, vitamins, and local growth. A prolonged and excessive alcohol use disrupts this process by affecting the hormones that regulate calcium metabolism. Therefore, you may experience the following problems:
- Decreased estrogen — bone remodeling slows and it may lead to bone loss. At the same time, women may experience irregular periods.
- Increased cortisol — alcoholics are more likely to have high levels of cortisol than non-alcoholics. It leads to decreased bone formation and increases the risk of bone breakdown.
- Increased parathyroid — it is another hormone whose high level draws calcium from the bone structure.
- Damaged osteoblasts — osteoblasts are cells responsible for making new bone mass. The more you drink, the more you kill osteoblasts.
- Damaged nerves — too much alcohol seriously affects the nerves of your hands and feet (also called peripheral neuropathy). That is why alcoholics are more likely to experience difficulties with maintaining their balance, and fall more often.
- Fractures — due to brittle bones and nerve damage, heavy alcohol users are more likely to experience frequent fractures, especially hip and spine fractures.
- Slow healing — once an alcohol abuser has a fracture, it will heal much more slowly than normal. That is because of malnutrition — a consequence of heavy alcohol consumption.