By Andrea Pyka

Do you already have a stomachache from eating too many Valentine’s Day chocolates? Here’s another reason not to finish that box of cocoa-infused treats.

According to a recent study at the University of Western Australia (UWA), chocolate can weaken bones and cause osteoporosis. As part of the study, a group of researchers at UWA studied whether or not calcium-rich foods — like chocolate, which contains oxolate, a type of salt that decreases the intestinal calcium and sugar absorption in the human body — could prevent the loss of minerals from the bones of older women.

Hodgson and his group of researchers at UWA initially studied the effects of tea on a person’s diet —because, according to Hodgson, both tea and chocolate contain flavanoids, a water-soluble plant pigment that is beneficial to human health. But while there are traces of flavanoids in dark chocolate, they give it its bitter taste and are often removed, which may account for the study’s results.

“We found that tea was associated with higher bone density,” Hodgson said. “Unexpectedly, we found that chocolate was associated with lower bone density.”

Dr. Jonathan Hodgson, head researcher for the study of chocolate on bones at UWA, said that older women are at a higher risk of bone loss, osteoporosis and fracture in the hips, neck, tibia and heel bones.

This is the first and only study to look at the relationship between chocolate and bone density, Hodgson said in an e-mail to City on a Hill Press.

Researchers randomly selected 1,001 women between the ages of 70 and 85 and carefully surveyed the effects of chocolate consumption on their bones. Upon X-raying their bones after chocolate consumption, the researchers concluded that the women who ate chocolate daily for five years had a lower bone density than those who ate chocolate less than once a week.

At first, researchers expected that consuming chocolate would improve the calcium absorption into the bone.

However, the results revealed that the women who ate a portion of chocolate a day had a lower bone density, yet appeared leaner and more energetic.

While the study revealed a decrease in bone density caused by chocolate consumption, Dr. Hodgson says that it is still too early in the research stages to determine the potential effects that chocolate could produce on the bone density of younger men and women.

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