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Alcohol Alcohol. 2011 Mar-Apr;46(2):148-55. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agq098. Epub 2011 Jan 19.

Vitamin D and nutritional status are related to bone fractures in alcoholics.

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  • 1Servicio de Medicina Interna, Hospital Universitario, Universidad de La Laguna, Ofra s/n, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.



Bone fractures are common in alcoholics.


To analyse which factors (ethanol consumption; liver function impairment; bone densitometry; hormone changes; nutritional status, and disrupted social links and altered eating habits) are related to bone fractures in 90 alcoholic men admitted to our hospitalization unit because of organic problems.


Bone homoeostasis-related hormones were measured in patients and age- and sex-matched controls. Whole-body densitometry was performed by a Hologic QDR-2000 (Waltham, MA, USA) densitometer, recording bone mineral density (BMD) and fat and lean mass; nutritional status and liver function were assessed. The presence of prevalent fractures was assessed by anamnesis and chest X-ray film.


Forty-nine patients presented at least one fracture. We failed to find differences between patients with and without fractures regarding BMD parameters. Differences regarding fat mass were absent, but lean mass was lower among patients with bone fracture. The presence of fracture was significantly associated with impaired subjective nutritional evaluation (χ² = 5.79, P = 0.016), lower vitamin D levels (Z = 2.98, P = 0.003) and irregular eating habits (χ² = 5.32, P = 0.02). Reduced lean mass and fat mass, and altered eating habits were more prevalent among patients with only rib fractures (n = 36) than in patients with multiple fractures and/or fractures affecting other bones (n = 13). These last were more closely related to decompensated liver disease. Serum vitamin D levels showed a significant relationship with handgrip strength (ρ = 0.26, P = 0.023) and lean mass at different parts of the body, but not with fat mass. By logistic regression analysis, only vitamin D and subjective nutritional evaluation were significantly, independently related with fractures.


Prevalent fractures are common among heavy alcoholics. Their presence is related more closely to nutritional status, lean mass and vitamin D levels than to BMD. Lean mass is more reduced, nutritional status is more impaired and there is a trend to more altered eating habits among patients with rib fractures, whereas multiple fractures depend more heavily on advanced liver disease.

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