Could alcohol consumption give you sarcopenia?

You may want to rethink that G&T—a new study suggests that alcohol consumption may lead to sarcopenia.


Characterized by loss of muscle mass and strength, sarcopenia may affect balance, gait, and overall ability to function. This condition occurs naturally with age, but can be combatted with exercise and diet.


A new study has now linked alcohol consumption with a higher prevalence of sarcopenia in postmenopausal women. The Korean study included 2,373 postmenopausal women (with the average age of 62.4 years), 8.2 per cent of whom were identified as having sarcopenia. Participants were categorized into three groups according to alcohol-drinking patterns, as assessed by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test questionnaire.


Results show that the prevalence of sarcopenia was found to be nearly four times greater for the high-risk alcohol-drinking group than the low-risk group. High-risk drinking was determined by the self-reporting of quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption, combined with a perceived lack of control over drinking, as well as blackouts and other injuries related to drinking.


“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,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of The North American Menopause Society. “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.”


As such, you should continue to drink in moderation; as with everything, balance is key.