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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Women who drink a moderate amount of alcohol can help prevent bone loss, lowering their risk of osteoporosis. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on the new research.

About 40 million Americans either have osteoporosis or are at high risk of getting it. It mainly strikes older women. But this new research says alcohol can help fight the brittle bone disease.

Women who want to prevent osteoporosis may want to raise their glass. A new study says drinking a moderate amount of alcohol may help prevent bone loss.

Researchers at Oregon State University studied postmenopausal women who regularly had one or two drinks a day, mainly wine. When they stopped drinking for two weeks, their rates of bone turnover, when bone is lost and replaced, went up.

“Based on this study, alcohol reduces bone loss by reducing the turnover that is elevated following menopause,” said Urszula Iwaniec, the study author at Oregon State University.

When women in the study resumed drinking, their rates of bone turnover returned to the previous lower levels, meaning they had stronger bones and less osteoporosis.

Older women are more affected because estrogen, the hormone that keeps bone replacement in check, decreases after menopause.

“My friends my age have osteoporosis. It’s very common, and we can all use a bit more wine. Why not?” said Sandra Crain, an osteoporosis patient.

But researchers say there’s a fine line with alcohol.

“Excessive alcohol consumption is detrimental to bone health, but in this moderate range, it is beneficial,” said Iwaniec.

Doctors say other things that are known to help keep bones strong include a healthy diet, taking calcium and exercising.

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