Sorry, but drinking tequila probably won’t help your bones, after all

At Spectator Health we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but tequila probably isn’t good for your bones, despite what the headlines said yesterday.

According to the Centre for Research and Advanced Studies in Mexico, an extract from the Agave Azul tequilana plant helps the body to absorb calcium and magnesium, which in turn improves bone strength.

The researchers removed the ovaries from female mice to induce osteoporosis, a condition in which bones lose density and weaken, making them more susceptible to breaks and fractures.

They then fed the mice sugars from the tequilana plant. After eight weeks, bone samples were analysed to measure how much calcium and magnesium were absorbed. They also looked for the presence of a protein called osteocalcin, which indicates that new bone matter is being produced.

It was found that mice that consumed the tequilana fructans absorbed almost 50 per cent more calcium and magnesium. The diameter of their bones was also higher compared to control subjects.

However, there are some issues with the study, and the way it has been reported. Firstly (and most obviously) mice aren’t humans. Although many scientific breakthroughs are discovered by testing on mice, the human physiology won’t necessarily react in the same way to the same input. Mice are famously resilient to thalidomide, for example.

Secondly, removing the ovaries to induce osteoporosis can increase the rate at which bone loss occurs, so it’s not a perfect parallel.

Also the mice were treated with a plant extract which is used in the production of tequila, not tequila itself. During the production process the plant is baked at temperatures of over 120 degrees celsius, so it’s possible that the health benefits (as they appear in mice, anyway) are lost entirely before it reaches the bottle.