Vegetarians may be at higher risk to suffer bone fractures, study suggests - GulfToday

Vegetarians may be at higher risk to suffer bone fractures, study suggests

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Lower calcium and protein intakes had a 43 per cent higher risk of fractures. File

Gulf Today Report

Those who follow a vegan diet with lower calcium and protein intakes are at a 43 per cent higher risk of bone fracture compared to those who eat meat.

According to newly published research in the journal BMC Medicine, vegetarians and people who ate fish but not meat had a higher risk of hip fractures, compared to people who ate meat.

However, the risk of fractures was partly reduced once body mass index (BMI), dietary calcium and dietary protein intake were taken into account.


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"We found that vegans had a higher risk of total fractures which resulted in close to 20 more cases per 1,000 people over a 10-year period compared to people who ate meat," said study author Tammy Tong from the University of Oxford in the UK.

Fracture in older people are common, but the risk in vegans was 2.3 times higher than in people who ate meat, equivalent to 15 more cases per 1000 people over 10 years," Tong added.

The study was conducted on nearly 50,000 participants in the EPIC-Oxford study, a prospective cohort of men and women, who were recruited between 1993 and 2001, many of whom do not eat meat.

fracture 1 Photo used for illustrative purpose only.  

Out of the 54,898 participants included in the present study, 29,380 ate meat, 8,037 ate fish but not meat, 15,499 were vegetarians, and 1,982 were vegans when they were recruited.

Their eating habits were assessed initially at recruitment, then again in 2010. Participants were followed continuously for 18 years on average, until 2016 for the occurrence of fractures.

Dr Tong said: "Previous studies have shown that low BMI is associated with a higher risk of hip fractures, and low intakes of calcium and protein have both been linked to poorer bone health. This study showed that vegans, who on average had lower BMI as well as lower intakes of calcium and protein than meat-eaters, had higher risks of fractures at several sites.

“Well-balanced and predominantly plant-based diets can result in improved nutrient levels and have been linked to lower risks of diseases including heart disease and diabetes.

Individuals should take into account the benefits and risks of their diet, and ensure that they have adequate levels of calcium and protein and also maintain a healthy BMI, that is, neither under nor overweight."


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