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Women on vegetarian diet have higher risk of hip fracture compared to regular meat-eaters

A study of over 26,000 middle-aged UK women reveals those with a vegetarian diet had a 33% higher risk of hip fracture compared to regular meat-eaters.

University of Leeds research, published today (Thursday, August 11) in the journal BMC Medicine, investigated the risk of hip fracture in occasional meat-eaters; pescatarians, people who eat fish but not meat; and vegetarians compared to regular meat-eaters.

Among 26,318 women, 822 hip fracture cases were observed over roughly 20 years – that represented just over 3% of the sample population. After adjustment for factors such as smoking and age, vegetarians were the only diet group with an elevated risk of hip fracture.

This study is one of very few studies to compare risk of hip fracture in vegetarians and meat-eaters where the occurrence of hip fracture was confirmed from hospital records.

The scientists stress the need for more research into the exact causes of why vegetarians were at a greater risk of hip fracture.

Vegetarian diets can be ‘healthy or unhealthy’

Study lead author James Webster, a doctoral researcher from the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds, said: “Our study highlights potential concerns regarding risk of hip fracture in women who have a vegetarian diet. However, it is not warning people to abandon vegetarian diets. As with any diet, it is important to understand personal circumstances and what nutrients are needed for a balanced healthy lifestyle.

“Vegetarian diets can vary widely from person to person and can be healthy or unhealthy, just like diets that include animal products.

“However, it is concerning that vegetarian diets often have lower intakes of nutrients that are linked with bone and muscle health. These types of nutrients generally are more abundant in meat and other animal products than in plants, such as protein, calcium, and other micronutrients.

“Low intake of these nutrients can lead to lower bone mineral density and muscle mass, which can make you more susceptible to hip fracture risk. This makes it especially important for further research to better understand factors driving the increased risk in vegetarians, whether it be particular nutrient deficiencies or weight management, so that we can help people to make healthy choices.”

Plant-based diets growing in popularity

Vegetarian diets have gained popularity in recent years, with a 2021 YouGov survey putting the size of the UK vegetarian population at roughly 5-7%. It is often perceived as a healthier dietary option, with previous evidence that shows a vegetarian diet can reduce the risks of several chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer compared to omnivorous diets.

There is also a worldwide call for reducing the consumption of animal products in an effort to tackle climate change.

Understanding hip fracture risk in vegetarians is therefore becoming increasingly important to public health.

Study co-author Professor Janet Cade, leader of the Nutritional Epidemiology Group in the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds, said: “Hip fracture is a global health issue with high economic costs that causes loss of independence, reduces quality of life, and increases risk of other health issues.

Plant-based diets have been linked with poor bone health, but there has been a lack of evidence on the links to hip fracture risk. This study is an important step in understanding the potential risk plant-based diets could present over the long-term and what can be done to mitigate those risks.”


Professor Janet Cade, study co-author, leader of the Nutritional Epidemiology Group, School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds

The team used data from the UK Women’s Cohort Study to investigate possible links between diet and hip fracture risk. The national cohort of middle-aged women was established at the University of Leeds to explore links between diet and chronic disease, encompassing a wide range of different eating patterns. Dietary information was collected using a food frequency questionnaire and was validated using a 4-day food diary in a subsample of women.

At the time they were recruited into the cohort study, the women ranged in age from 35 to 69 years.

Effect of low BMI

The research team found that the average BMI among vegetarians was slightly lower than the average among the regular meat eaters. Previous research has shown a link between low BMI and a high risk of hip fracture.

Lower BMI can indicate people are underweight, which can mean poorer bone and muscle health, and higher risk of hip fracture. Further investigation is needed to determine if low BMI is the reason for the observed higher risk in vegetarians.

Study co-author, Dr Darren Greenwood, a biostatistician in the School of Medicine at Leeds, said: “This study is just part of the wider picture of diet and healthy bones and muscles in older age.

“Further research is needed to confirm whether there could be similar results in men, to explore the role of body weight, and to identify the reasons for different outcomes in vegetarians and meat-eaters.”

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Journal reference:

Webster, J., et al. (2022) Risk of hip fracture in meat-eaters, pescatarians, and vegetarians: results from the UK Women’s Cohort Study. BMC Medicine. doi.org/10.1186/s12916-022-02468-0.


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Vegetarian women ‘more likely to break hips in later life’ study says

New research has suggested that women who follow a vegetarian diet have a higher risk of breaking their hips in later life.

Researchers said vegetarian diets “often have lower intakes of nutrients that are linked with bone and muscle health” after their study found female vegetarians had a 33% increased risk of hip fracture compared to regular meat eaters.

The study, which involved more than 26,000 women aged 35-69 from across the UK, assessed the risk of hip fracture among vegetarians, pescatarians – those who eat fish but not meat – and occasional meat eaters compared with regular meat eaters.

After around 20 years, researchers noted 822 hip fractures among the women – around 3% of those involved in the study, which has been published in the journal BMC Medicine.

Herald Series: The research involved more than 26,000 women (Canva)The research involved more than 26,000 women (Canva)

Experts from the University of Leeds found that an elevated risk of hip fracture was found only among vegetarian women compared with women who regularly consumed meat.

The data was drawn from the UK Women’s Cohort Study, which is tracking women over time to assess the risks between diet and health.

Study lead author James Webster, a researcher from the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds, clarified that the findings were not a call for people to abandon being vegetarian.

He said: “Our study highlights potential concerns regarding risk of hip fracture in vegetarian women.

“However, it is not warning people to abandon vegetarian diets – as with any diet, it is important to understand personal circumstances and what nutrients are needed for a balanced healthy lifestyle.”

Vegetarian diets often have lower intakes of nutrients that are linked with bone and muscle health. These types of nutrients generally are more abundant in meat and other animal products than in plants, such as protein, calcium, and other micronutrients.

“Low intake of these nutrients can lead to lower bone mineral density and muscle mass, which can make you more susceptible to hip fracture risk.”

Researchers said further study is needed to assess whether there could be similar results found among men.




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Women on vegetarian diets more likely to break their hips, study finds | UK News

Women who follow a vegetarian diet are more likely to break their hips later in life, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Leeds found female vegetarians see their risk of hip fracture increase by 33% compared to those who eat meat.

They said a possible reason for this could be vegetarian diets “often have lower intakes of nutrients that are linked with bone and muscle health”.

More than 26,000 women aged 35-69 from across the UK took part in the study.

It assessed the risk of hip fracture among vegetarians, pescatarians – those who eat fish but not meat – and occasional meat eaters compared with regular meat eaters.

After around 20 years, researchers noted 822 hip fractures among the women – around 3% – and that an elevated risk of hip fracture was only among female vegetarians compared with women who regularly consumed meat.

The data was drawn from the UK Women’s Cohort Study, which is tracking women over time to assess the risks between diet and health.

Among the group of women 28% are vegetarian and 1% are vegan.

Study lead author James Webster said: “Our study highlights potential concerns regarding risk of hip fracture in vegetarian women.

“However, it is not warning people to abandon vegetarian diets – as with any diet, it is important to understand personal circumstances and what nutrients are needed for a balanced healthy lifestyle.”

He added: “Vegetarian diets often have lower intakes of nutrients that are linked with bone and muscle health. These types of nutrients generally are more abundant in meat and other animal products than in plants, such as protein, calcium, and other micronutrients.

“Low intake of these nutrients can lead to lower bone mineral density and muscle mass, which can make you more susceptible to hip fracture risk.”

Researchers said further research is needed to assess whether there could be similar results found among men.

The study has been published in the journal BMC Medicine.


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Vegetarian women are a THIRD more likely to suffer hip fractures

Vegetarian women are a THIRD more likely to suffer hip fractures later in life because ‘they don’t get enough nutrients to keep bones strong’

  • Leeds University researchers studied more than 26,000 middle-aged women
  • Those who did not eat meat and fish had 33 per cent higher risk of hip fractures
  • Reinforces advice vegetarians should fortify diets with key nutrient supplements

Vegetarian women have a higher risk of breaking their hips in later life compared to meat-eaters, research suggests.

A study of more than 26,000 middle-aged women has revealed those who do not eat meat and fish have a 33 per cent higher risk of hip fractures.

This could be because they have a lower intake of nutrients that are linked with bone and muscle health, the researchers said.

And it reinforces advice that vegetarians should fortify their diets with key nutrients, they added.

A team from Leeds University investigated the risk of hip fracture in occasional meat-eaters, pescatarians – who eat fish but not meat – and vegetarians compared to regular meat-eaters.

Vegetarian women have a higher risk of breaking their hips in later life compared to meat-eaters, research suggests

Vegetarian women have a higher risk of breaking their hips in later life compared to meat-eaters, research suggests 

Downsides of giving up meat

Switching to a completely plant-based diet could leave you tired or breaking out in acne, dieticians have warned.  

Not eating or drinking animal products could leave you missing out on key vitamins like B12 as well as proteins. 

A lack of vitamin B12, which is in found milk and eggs, can lead to fatigue or tiredness and negatively impact your mental health. 

Vitamin D is another nutrient found mainly in animal products, like oily fish, that those on vegan diets can be deficient in.

A vitamin D deficiency can lead to issues with bone development and cause pain. 

Not getting enough protein, which we get from dairy products, fish, eggs and meat can stunt growth in children and also lead to acne breakouts.

A lack of iron, found in red meat and liver, can lead to anaemia, causing people to feel tired and have heart palpitations.

Iodine, mainly found in seafood, is another nutrient known to be lacking in vegan diets and is important in maintaining a health metabolism. 

Plant-based diets can include all of these mentioned nutrients but people need to carefully manage what they eat, or take supplements, to ensure they get enough. 

This is especially true if people are switching to a vegan diet after primarily getting these nutrients from animal products.   

But another risk is the false perception that vegan products are inherently healthier than non-vegan options.

A MailOnline analysis of meat-free vegan alternative foods found a significant number contained more salt, sugar and fat than the product they were meant to replace. 

Among 26,318 women, 822 hip fracture cases were observed over roughly 20 years – meaning around 3 per cent of women experienced them.

Analysis, published in the journal BMC Medicine, found that after adjusting for factors such as smoking and age, vegetarians were the only diet group with an elevated risk of hip fracture.

The team also discovered the average BMI among vegetarians was slightly lower than the average among the regular meat eaters.

Previous research has shown a link between low BMI and high risk of hip fracture, which could help explain the finding.

Lead author James Webster said vegetarian diets can vary, with some still being unhealthy.

‘Our study highlights potential concerns regarding risk of hip fracture in women who have a vegetarian diet,’ he said.

‘However, it is not warning people to abandon vegetarian diets. As with any diet, it is important to understand personal circumstances and what nutrients are needed for a balanced healthy lifestyle.

‘Vegetarian diets can vary widely from person to person and can be healthy or unhealthy, just like diets that include animal products.

‘However, it is concerning that vegetarian diets often have lower intakes of nutrients that are linked with bone and muscle health. These types of nutrients generally are more abundant in meat and other animal products than in plants, such as protein, calcium, and other micronutrients.

‘Low intake of these nutrients can lead to lower bone mineral density and muscle mass, which can make you more susceptible to hip fracture risk.’

Vegetarian diets have gained popularity in recent years, with a 2021 survey putting the size of the UK vegetarian population as high as 7 per cent.

It is often perceived as a healthier dietary option, with previous evidence showing it can reduce the risk of several chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer compared to people who also eat meat.

However it has also been linked to negative effects such as poor bone health.

Co-author Professor Janet Cade said: ‘Hip fracture is a global health issue with high economic costs that causes loss of independence, reduces quality of life, and increases risk of other health issues.

‘Plant-based diets have been linked with poor bone health, but there has been a lack of evidence on the links to hip fracture risk.

‘This study is an important step in understanding the potential risk plant-based diets could present over the long-term and what can be done to mitigate those risks.’

Not being underweight, fortifying the diet with key nutrients and being physically active to strengthen bones and muscles are some of the ways vegetarian women can help maintain their bone health, the authors said.

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Vegetarian women are more prone to fracture hips in later life

According to a UK study, vegetarian women are more prone than meat-eating women to have hip fractures later in life.

Over a nearly 22-year period, researchers examined the health and dietary records of over 26,000 women and found that vegetarians had a third higher risk of hip fracture than people who frequently consumed meat.

Researchers believe certain vegetarians may not obtain enough nutrients for strong bones and muscles, making them more prone to falls and fractures. The exact cause of the higher risk is unknown.

“The message for vegetarians is don’t give up your diet, because it is healthy for other things and environmentally friendly,” said James Webster, a researcher at the University of Leeds. “But do take care to plan well and don’t miss out on nutrients that you exclude when you don’t eat meat or fish,” he added.

In addition to lowering the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and some malignancies, vegetarian diets are frequently seen as being healthier than those that include meat.

The BMC Medicine study, however, emphasises the value of a balanced diet regardless of what people eat.  According to Webster, vegetarians are more likely to have weaker bones and less muscle mass, which both increase the risk of hip fractures for several reasons, including possibly reduced intakes of vital nutrients.

Falls, which are more frequent in elderly persons who tend to be more fragile and have weaker bones, account for around 90% of hip fractures.Frailty can be exacerbated by fractures, which raises the possibility of additional falls and worse frailty.

The researchers believe vegetarians are more likely than meat eaters to be underweight and that in addition to having weaker bones and muscles, they may also have less fat, which can serve as a cushion when individuals fall.

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Vegetarian women are at higher risk of hip fracture

A study of over 26,000 middle-aged UK women reveals those with a vegetarian diet had a 33% higher risk of hip fracture compared to regular meat-eaters.

University of Leeds research, published today (Thursday, August 11) in the journal BMC Medicine, investigated the risk of hip fracture in occasional meat-eaters; pescatarians, people who eat fish but not meat; and vegetarians compared to regular meat-eaters.

Among 26,318 women, 822 hip fracture cases were observed over roughly 20 years – that represented just over 3% of the sample population. After adjustment for factors such as smoking and age, vegetarians were the only diet group with an elevated risk of hip fracture.

This study is one of very few studies to compare risk of hip fracture in vegetarians and meat-eaters where the occurrence of hip fracture was confirmed from hospital records.

The scientists stress the need for more research into the exact causes of why vegetarians were at a greater risk of hip fracture.

Vegetarian diets can be ‘healthy or unhealthy’

Study lead author James Webster, a doctoral researcher from the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds, said: “Our study highlights potential concerns regarding risk of hip fracture in women who have a vegetarian diet. However, it is not warning people to abandon vegetarian diets. As with any diet, it is important to understand personal circumstances and what nutrients are needed for a balanced healthy lifestyle.

“Vegetarian diets can vary widely from person to person and can be healthy or unhealthy, just like diets that include animal products.

“However, it is concerning that vegetarian diets often have lower intakes of nutrients that are linked with bone and muscle health. These types of nutrients generally are more abundant in meat and other animal products than in plants, such as protein, calcium, and other micronutrients.

“Low intake of these nutrients can lead to lower bone mineral density and muscle mass, which can make you more susceptible to hip fracture risk. This makes it especially important for further research to better understand factors driving the increased risk in vegetarians, whether it be particular nutrient deficiencies or weight management, so that we can help people to make healthy choices.”

Plant-based diets growing in popularity

Vegetarian diets have gained popularity in recent years, with a 2021 YouGov survey putting the size of the UK vegetarian population at roughly 5-7%. It is often perceived as a healthier dietary option, with previous evidence that shows a vegetarian diet can reduce the risks of several chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer compared to omnivorous diets.

There is also a worldwide call for reducing the consumption of animal products in an effort to tackle climate change.

Understanding hip fracture risk in vegetarians is therefore becoming increasingly important to public health.

Study co-author Professor Janet Cade, leader of the Nutritional Epidemiology Group in the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds, said: “Hip fracture is a global health issue with high economic costs that causes loss of independence, reduces quality of life, and increases risk of other health issues.

“Plant-based diets have been linked with poor bone health, but there has been a lack of evidence on the links to hip fracture risk. This study is an important step in understanding the potential risk plant-based diets could present over the long-term and what can be done to mitigate those risks.”

The team used data from the UK Women’s Cohort Study to investigate possible links between diet and hip fracture risk. The national cohort of middle-aged women was established at the University of Leeds to explore links between diet and chronic disease, encompassing a wide range of different eating patterns. Dietary information was collected using a food frequency questionnaire and was validated using a 4-day food diary in a subsample of women.

At the time they were recruited into the cohort study, the women ranged in age from 35 to 69 years.

Effect of low BMI

The research team found that the average BMI among vegetarians was slightly lower than the average among the regular meat eaters. Previous research has shown a link between low BMI and a high risk of hip fracture.

Lower BMI can indicate people are underweight, which can mean poorer bone and muscle health, and higher risk of hip fracture. Further investigation is needed to determine if low BMI is the reason for the observed higher risk in vegetarians.

Study co-author, Dr Darren Greenwood, a biostatistician in the School of Medicine at Leeds, said: “This study is just part of the wider picture of diet and healthy bones and muscles in older age.

“Further research is needed to confirm whether there could be similar results in men, to explore the role of body weight, and to identify the reasons for different outcomes in vegetarians and meat-eaters.”

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.


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Vegetarian women more likely to fracture hips in later life

Women who are vegetarian are more likely to experience hip fractures in later life than those who frequently eat meat, a UK study has found.

Researchers analysed health and diet records from more than 26,000 women and found that over a roughly 22-year period, vegetarians were a third more likely to break a hip than those who regularly ate meat, the Guardian reported.

The reasons for the greater risk are unclear but researchers suspect some vegetarians may not get sufficient nutrients for good bone and muscle health, leaving them prone to falls and fractures.

“The message for vegetarians is don’t give up your diet, because it is healthy for other things and environmentally friendly, but do take care to plan well and don’t miss out on nutrients that you exclude when you don’t eat meat or fish,” said James Webster, a researcher at the University of Leeds.

Vegetarian diets are often considered healthier than the ones that contain meat and they can reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and certain cancers.

But the study published in BMC Medicine highlights the importance of a balanced diet whatever people eat, the Guardian reported.

“It’s likely that vegetarians, for one reason or another, and potentially because of lower intakes of important nutrients, have weaker bones and lower muscle mass and both of those things predispose people to hip fractures,” Webster said.

About 90 per cent of hip fractures are linked to falls, which are more common in older people, who tend to be more frail and have weaker bones.

But fractures can often drive further frailty, which increases the risk of more falls and worse frailty.

The researchers suspect vegetarians are more likely to be underweight than meat eaters, and that beyond having weaker bones and muscles may also have less fat, which can act as a cushion when people fall, the Guardian reported.

Given the findings, Webster said vegetarians may want to consider eating fortified cereals with added iron and B12 for bone health, and to ensure they are getting enough protein, through foods such as nuts, legumes and beans.

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Vegetarian women have 33 per cent higher risk of breaking a hip

A large study tracking women in the UK finds that vegetarians have a higher risk of breaking a hip compared with women who eat any amount of meat



Health



11 August 2022

Woman arranging vegetarian buffet

Vegetarian diets tend to include less calcium and vitamin B12, which are important for bone health

Facinadora/Alamy Stock Photo

The risk of breaking a hip is a third higher for women who are vegetarian than those who are regular meat eaters, according to a large UK study.

The increase in risk may arise from meat-free diets tending to have less protein, which helps build muscle mass, and possible deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin B12, which help strengthen bones.

Women are more likely to break their hips than men, especially as they get older, because after the menopause, levels of the sex hormone oestrogen fall, leading to weaker bones. Broken hips are a significant cause of deaths in older people as they are hard to recover from and can result in extended immobility and health complications. “The effect on health is pretty big,” says James Webster at the University of Leeds, UK.

Previous studies have suggested that vegetarians and vegans have weaker bones, so Webster’s team took advantage of a large ongoing study that has tracked the health and lifestyle of over 26,000 women in the UK for about 20 years. They were aged between 35 and 69 at recruitment, and none were transgender as far as the researchers know.

Overall, about 3 per cent of participants broke their hip during that time. Those who were vegetarian had a 33 per cent higher risk of this happening compared with those who consumed meat at least five times a week.

There was no difference in risk between regular meat eaters and those who ate lesser amounts, or just ate fish. Vegans weren’t included in the study.

Other research has found that being vegetarian is better for health in different ways – for instance, it is linked with a lower risk of heart disease. All such studies, including the latest one, are observational, however, and so can’t prove that diet causes different health patterns – only that there are correlations.

Such studies can make meat-free diets seem more beneficial than they really are because vegetarians usually have healthier lifestyles in other ways, such as avoiding smoking and heavy drinking. The best kind of medical evidence comes from randomised trials, but these are hard to do for a major dietary choice such as whether or not to eat meat.

Webster says the latest findings shouldn’t make people quit vegetarianism, as people can get protein from dairy products and pulses and can take vitamin supplements or use calcium-fortified dairy products if necessary.

Jen Elford at the Vegetarian Society says: “It is important to keep this issue in proportion – outcomes for the health of vegetarians are generally very good. Fracture risk is generally correlated with intake of calcium and vitamin D and so the need to ensure reliable intakes of these nutrients is highlighted.”

Journal reference: BMC Medicine, DOI: 10.1186/s12916-022-02468-0

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