People who eat a vegetarian diet, avoiding meat, are at greater risk of fractures, especially the hip, according to a new British scientific study, the first to make this finding.
The researchers, led by epidemiologist-nutritionist Dr. Tammy Tong of the Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford analyzed data from 55,000 people with a mean age of 45 years at the start of the study, of whom 29,380 ate meat, 8,037 ate fish but no meat, 15,499 were vegetarians who ate animal products but no meat, and 1,982 were vegetarians.
The participants were followed for 18 years to study the occurrence of fractures. During the entire study period, participants suffered 3941 fractures, including injuries to the limbs, hips, ankles, wrists, spine and other parts of the body.
Scientists emphasize that this is the first comprehensive study of fracture risks in various dietary groups. And it showed that vegans and vegetarians have a higher risk of complete (site-specific) fractures – almost 20 cases per thousand people, compared to those who eat meat products. Vegans and vegetarians are especially at risk of hip fractures – they are more likely to break this thin layer than meat eaters.
Previous studies have shown that low body mass index is associated with a higher risk of hip fracture, while low calcium and protein levels have both been associated with poorer bone health and an increased risk of fracture. The researchers noted that vegans in particular have an average lower body mass index (usually very lean) and lower levels of calcium and protein than meat eaters.
On the other hand, Tong pointed out that “balanced and basically vegetarian diets can lead to improved nutrient levels and have been associated with lower risks for various conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. People should take into account both the benefits and risks of their dietary choices and ensure that they have adequate levels of calcium and protein, as well as maintaining a healthy body mass index, neither below nor above normal”.