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Vegans Have Increased Risk for Total, Main-Site Fractures

Association attenuated slightly with adjustment for dietary calcium and/or protein but still significant

human bone

MONDAY, Nov. 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Vegans have increased risks for total fractures and some site-specific fractures compared with meat eaters, according to a study published online Nov. 23 in BMC Medicine.

Tammy Y.N. Tong, Ph.D., from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a prospective study to examine differences in fracture risks between vegetarians, vegans, and nonvegetarians. Dietary information was collected at baseline (1993 to 2001) and follow-up (around 2010). Participants were categorized into four diet groups: 29,380 meat eaters; 8,037 fish eaters; 15,499 vegetarians; and 1,982 vegans at baseline.

The researchers found that after adjustment for socioeconomic factors, lifestyle confounders, and body mass index (BMI), the risks for hip fracture were higher in fish eaters, vegetarians, and vegans compared with meat eaters (hazard ratios, 1.26, 1.25, and 2.31, respectively), equivalent to rate differences of 2.9, 2.9, and 14.9 more cases, respectively, for every 1,000 people over 10 years. Compared with meat eaters, vegans also had elevated risks for total, leg, and other main-site fractures (hazard ratios, 1.43, 2.05, and 1.59, respectively). The associations were stronger without adjustment for BMI and were attenuated slightly with adjustment for dietary calcium and/or total protein, but they remained significant.

"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," Tong said in a statement.

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