Consuming alcohol post menopause could contribute to muscle mass loss, says study

New York, June 7, 2017 —— A new study has found that that alcohol consumption in postmenopausal women is linked to an increase in loss of muscle and strength, a condition known as sarcopenia which in turn can affect balance, gait and day to day tasks.

Sarcopenia is already affected by aging and menopause, with this new study one of the first to also link alcohol consumption to a higher prevalence of sarcopenia in postmenopausal women.

As previous research has found that estrogen therapy can be beneficial for muscle mass and function, this group is thought to be particularly vulnerable to the condition.

The Korean-based study looked at 2,373 postmenopausal women with a mean age of 62.4 years, of which 8.2 per cent had sarcopenia.

The team placed the women into three groups according to their alcohol-drinking patterns, categorising them from low-risk to high-risk drinking.

High-risk drinking was defined not only by the quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption reported by the women, but also by a perceived lack of control over drinking, as well as blackouts and drinking-related injuries.

After taking into account factors such as age, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, household income, education level, daily calorie intake, smoking status and levels of physical activity, the team found that the rate of sarcopenia was nearly four times greater for the high-risk, alcohol-drinking group than the low-risk group.

In addition to an increased risk of sarcopenia, women in the high-risk, alcohol-drinking group were also more likely to smoke and have worse blood pressure and total cholesterol. They were also significantly younger than women in the other two groups.

Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), which published the study in their journal Menopause, commented on the findings saying, “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,”

“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.”