The greatest differences were for hip fractures, where the risk in vegans was higher
Compared to meat-eaters, vegans with lower calcium and protein intake on average have a 43% higher risk of fractures anywhere in the body (total fractures), as well as a higher risk of site-specific fractures of hips, legs, and vertebrae, according to a study published in the open-access journal ‘BMC Medicine’.
The vegetarians and people who ate fish but no meat had a higher risk of hip fractures compared with people who ate meat. However, the risk of fractures was partially reduced once body mass index (BMI), dietary calcium, and dietary protein intake were taken into account.
Dr. Tammy Tong, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, UK, and lead author highlights that “this is the first comprehensive study on the risks of total and specific fractures in people from different diet groups. “
Major differences for hip fractures
“We found that vegans had a higher risk of total fractures, resulting in about 20 more cases per 1,000 people over a 10-year period, compared to people who ate meat,” he continues. “The biggest differences were for hip fractures, where the risk in vegans was 2.3 times higher than in people who ate meat, equivalent to 15 more cases per 1,000 people in a period of 10 years. “
A team of researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Bristol analyzed data from nearly 55,000 people in the EPIC-Oxford study, a prospective cohort of men and women living in the United Kingdom, who were recruited between 1993 and 2001, many of whom do not eat meat.
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 recruited. Their eating habits were initially assessed at the time of recruitment, then again in 2010.
The participants were followed continuously for 18 years on average until 2016 to detect the occurrence of fractures. During the time of the study, a total of 3,941 fractures occurred, including 566 of the arm, 889 of the wrist, 945 of the hip, 366 of the leg, 520 of the ankle, and 467 fractures at other major sites, defined as the clavicle, ribs and ribs vertebrae.
In addition to a higher risk of hip fractures in vegans, vegetarians, and pescetarians than meat-eaters, vegans also had an increased risk of leg fractures and other main site fractures.
The authors found no significant differences in risks between the diet groups for arm, wrist, or ankle fractures once BMI was taken into account. The authors found that the differences in total and site-specific fracture risk were partially reduced once BMI, dietary calcium, and dietary protein intake were taken into account.
Dr. Tong recalls that “previous studies have shown that a low BMI is associated with an increased risk of hip fractures, and low calcium and protein intake have been linked to poorer bone health. This study showed that vegans, who on average had a lower BMI as well as lower calcium and protein intake than meat-eaters, had a higher risk of fractures at various sites. “
” Well-balanced and predominantly plant-based diets can result in better nutrient levels and have been linked to lower risks of diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes,” he continues. “People should consider the benefits and risks of their diet and make sure you have adequate levels of calcium and protein and also maintain a healthy BMI, that is, neither underweight nor overweight. “