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Long-term, peer-reviewed study of 55,000 people finds that vegans, vegetarians, and pescatarians suffer from dramatically higher risk of bone fractures.
Weak and brittle bones are, in the majority of cases, an ominous sign of a nutritionally deficient diet. That being the case, those following various types of plant-based diets are putting their bone health at risk according to a very large, long-term study published in November 2020 by the peer-reviewed journal BMC Medicine.
This study builds upon previous research revealing that plant-based diets fail to adequately support bone health. For example, vegetarians suffer from far more cavities and other tooth problems than those who eat meat.
ALL Plant-Based Diets Tied to High Fracture Risk
The study’s findings summarize decades worth of data spent tracking the diet and fracture risk of about 55,000 people in the UK. The breakdown is as follows:
- 29,000 meat-eaters (omnivores)
- 8,000 were pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish)
- 15,500 were vegetarians (dairy and eggs consumed but no meat or fish)
- 2,000 were vegans (only plant foods consumed)
All of the participants enrolled in the EPIC-Oxford study between 1993 and 2001. EPIC refers to the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition, one of the world’s largest cohort studies.
The study analyzed data collected over an 18 year period. During that time, roughly 3,900 fractures occurred:
- 566 broken arms
- 889 broken wrists
- 945 broken hips
- 366 broken legs
- 520 broken ankles
- 467 fractures of other bones, including the ribs, spine, or collarbone.
Vegans, vegetarians, and even fish-eating pescatarians all exhibited higher risks of fractures than meat-eaters, in some cases, astronomically so according to lead author Tammy Tong, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Oxford.
Hip fracture risk in vegans was 2.3 times higher than in people who ate meat, equivalent to 15 more cases per 1,000 people over 10 years,” she said. In addition, vegans also had a higher risk of fractures anywhere in the body, as well as fractures of the legs and vertebrae when compared to the meat-eaters. (1)
Fracture Risk Persists after Adjusting for BMI
Lona Sandon, a program director in the department of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, had this to say about the results.
The findings are not terribly surprising. Vegetarian and vegan diets are not always healthy and can lack many nutrients. (2)
While plant-based diets are associated with lower body weight, one of the reasons they are so popular, adjusting for BMI did not remove the stubbornly high risk of fractures for those who do not eat meat. In particular, vegans suffered from a higher specific risk for broken legs and hips. (3)
Thus, while eating plant-based may be popular to achieve vegan-skinny status, it is risky to bone health no matter whether a person is vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian. This according to a large-scale, long-term study of 55,000 people published in a peer-reviewed journal!
Could this be one reason for the epidemic of broken bones in adolescent girls in recent years, a growing number of whom avoid meat due to peer pressure and false online messaging? This dramatic case of a vegan girl with brittle bones made widespread headlines.
Since some people avoid meat for environmental reasons, it is important to get the word out that there is a way to eat meat ethically, and in so doing, hit hard against industries that abuse animals and planet Earth in the process. That path involves the support of local, sustainable grassfed family farms!
(1) Vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians may be at higher risk of bone fractures
(2) Vegan Diets Tied to Higher Bone Fracture Risk