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Chronic Alcohol Abuse Leads to Low Bone Mass with No General Loss of Bone Structure or Bone Mechanical Strength,

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Chronic alcohol abuse (CAA) has deleterious effects on skeletal health. This study examined the impact of CAA on bone with regard to bone density, structure, and strength. Bone specimens from 42 individuals with CAA and 42 individuals without alcohol abuse were obtained at autopsy. Dual‐energy X‐ray absorptiometry (DEXA), compression testing, ashing, and bone histomorphometry were performed. Individuals with CAA had significantly lower bone mineral density (BMD) in the femoral neck and significantly lower bone volume demonstrated by thinner trabeculae, decreased extent of osteoid surfaces, and lower mean wall thickness of trabecular osteons compared to individuals without alcohol abuse. No significant difference was found for bone strength and structure. Conclusion: CAA leads to low bone mass due to a decrease in bone formation but with no destruction of bone architecture nor a decrease in bone strength. It is questionable whether this per se increases fracture risk.
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Keywords: bone histomorphometry; bone strength; bone structure; chronic alcohol abuse; forensic science; fracture risk; osteopenia; skeletal health

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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