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Vegans may be at higher risk for bone fractures, study finds

There were 4.1 more cases in vegetarians and 19.4 more cases in vegans for every 1,000 people over a period of 10 years.
Factors such as low body mass index, low physical activity and inadequate intake of calcium and...
Factors such as low body mass index, low physical activity and inadequate intake of calcium and protein could make bones more fracture-prone.(CNN)
Published: Nov. 22, 2020 at 9:37 PM EST
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(CNN)- On the ever-growing list of pros and cons of plant-based diets, the higher risk of bone fractures has been reinforced on the list of possible drawbacks.

Vegans and vegetarians may be at greater risk for bone fractures than meat eaters, according to a large, longitudinal study published Sunday in the journal BMC Medicine.

Fractures in adulthood and older ages are common, but previous studies have shown that vegetarians have lower bone mineral density than non-vegetarians. Bone density is “a measure of the amount of minerals (mostly calcium and phosphorus) contained in a certain volume of bone,” according to the US National Cancer Institute.

Substantially lower intakes of dietary calcium and protein have also been reported among non-meat eaters. Despite this prior research, the associations between vegetarian diets and fracture risks have been unclear until now, the study said.

“This is the first comprehensive study and the largest study to date to look at the risks of both total fractures (fractures occurring anywhere in the body) and fractures at different sites in people of different habitual dietary habits,” said the study’s lead author, Tammy Tong, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, via email.

There were 4.1 more cases in vegetarians and 19.4 more cases in vegans for every 1,000 people over a period of 10 years.

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