It is very frustrating for the average public to make any sense of health reporting these days. It is no wonder that people no longer listen. It can become irresponsible reporting as well.
Just a few days ago, there was a report that marijuana may help stop osteoporosis. The work was done in mice, of course. But they stated that cannabis is harmful to young bones, but protective in older bones. What’s interesting, and confusing, is that the cannabis’ interaction with the cannabis receptor activates the receptor to cause destruction, yet it prevents bone loss in older mice. It did not reveal how it did this, but the study showed that there was less fat in bones, which is a marker of healthier bones in humans. First of all, we cannot always equate mice and human models. Secondly, were there confounding factors that could explain the decrease in fat in bones? Is it safe to say that less fat in older mice bones meant protection?
Now, another report states that a study in Spain shows moderate drinking can boost bones. The study defined moderate drinking as being up to 5 units a day; yet, experts warn that more than two drinks will harm bones. Since we also know that each person’s ability to tolerate drinking is variable, how can we really estimate moderate drinking? By tolerance, I do not refer to sobriety, but to liver damage. Furthermore, it is not the alcohol, but the natural products that go into the drinks that confer the benefit. So, shouldn’t they concentrate on studying the “phytoestrogens” rather than stating the benefits of drinking?
It is hard to say whether it’s the media or the scientists who are doing the research who are doing a disservice to the general public by reporting on such contradictory findings. And, especially when the research involves such controversial issues. Will they next be calling for leniency on the use of alcohol and marijuana? Of course, those who support such “mildly illegal” drugs will hail these scientific reports as more evidence of their utility.
It will be dangerous to advocate the use of alcohol and marijuana to treat osteoporosis, especially as they will increase the likelihood of falls, which is one of the biggest risks for fractures, regardless of how strong the bone is.