Research conducted on one of the largest dietary and health studies has revealed that people eating vegan, and to a lesser extent, vegetarian and pescetarian, diets are at higher risk for fractures.
This is in line with earlier studies that had indicated that vegan diets had weaker bones, but it had been unclear if this translated to an increased fracture risk.
Participants eating a vegan diet had a more than doubled increase of hip fracture risk; those on vegetarian and pescatarian diets also had an increase in hip fracture risk of 25%. Vegans, but not vegetarians and pescetarians, were also at increased risk of other fractures.
The research was done using data from the EPIC-Oxford trial, which followed over 65 000 participants from 1993 onwards, and controlled for a number of variables such as age, gender and level of physical activity.
The presence of protein helps to absorb calcium, and vegans are unlikely to be getting enough calcium without supplementing their diet. It is notable that after the 1990s, plant-based milk substitutes began to be fortified, which may have affected the results.
A vegan diet also resulted in other health benefits as well as risks. Compared to an omnivorous diet, a vegan diet conferred a 10% reduction in cancer rates, 20% reduction in heart disease but also increased stroke risk by 20%.
The article is available to read at BMC Medicine.
Source: New Scientist