Bone fractures are a potentially debilitating risk of aging. The best way to support bone health and avoid fractures is also one of the most controversial topics in medicine. Should you drink milk or not? Take calcium or not? Eat meat or not?
Let’s look at the latest study to make sense of this issue.
A team of researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Bristol in the UK analysed data from nearly 55,000 people in the EPIC-Oxford study. Participants were followed for about 18 years to evaluate how their diets affected their risk of fracture.
Compared with people who ate meat, vegans had a 43% higher risk of total fractures, as well as higher risks of site-specific fractures of the hips, legs and vertebrae.
The biggest difference was for hip fractures, where the risk in vegans was 2.3 times higher than in people who ate meat. That’s equivalent to 15 more hip fractures per 1000 people over 10 years.
Vegans also tended to have lower body mass index (BMI) and lower intakes of calcium and protein than meat eaters—all of which have previously been found to increase the risk of fractures. Still, the association between eating a vegan diet and having a higher fracture risk remained significant even after all of these factors were accounted for.
Tong TYN, Appleby PN, Armstrong MEG et al. Vegetarian and vegan diets and risks of total and site-specific fractures: results from the prospective EPIC-Oxford study. BMC Med. 2020; 18: 353. https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/ s12916-020-01815-3