Hip fractures more prevalent among vegetarian women

Hip fractures more prevalent among vegetarian women

A vegetarian diet can provide many health benefits. But, for some women, it can also raise the risk of hip fractures.

That’s the main finding from researchers in the United Kingdom, who explored the relationship between diet and broken hips. In one if the few studies of its kind, the scientists collected food and hip-fracture data from more than 26,000 women.

Just like animal-based diets, vegetarian diets can vary widely from person to person and can be healthy or unhealthy. Vegetarian diets tend to have lower levels of nutrients that support muscle and bone health. Fewer of those nutrients can lead to reduced muscle mass and bone mineral density. That, in turn, can heighten the risk of a broken hip.

The researchers focused on several groups of people: vegetarians, regular meat eaters, occasional meat eaters and those who ate fish but not meat. After accounting for age and smoking, the vegetarians were the only group with an elevated risk of hip fracture.

While the findings highlight a potential risk, the researchers add this for context: An elevated risk of hip fractures isn’t reason alone to abandon a vegetarian diet.

Next, the researchers want to do more study to pinpoint the exact reasons vegetarians are at greater risk for broken hips. Ultimately, the answer may have to do with weight management, nutrient deficiencies or entirely different factors.  Hip fractures, the researchers noted, are a costly, global health issue that can lead to a diminished quality of life and loss of independence.

If hip fractures are a concern, it might be OK to think about occasionally “cheating” on your vegetarian fare.


Related Episodes