Increasing protein intake helps women reduce hip fracture risk

Increasing protein intake helps women reduce hip fracture risk
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A new study by the University of Leeds has found new ways women could reduce their risk of hip fracture. 

A study conducted by food scientists at the University of Leeds has found that increasing protein intake by 25g was associated with an 14% reduction in their risk of hip fracture. Furthermore, drinking tea or coffee regularly also was linked to a 4% reduction in risk. 

The protein can come in any form, including meat, dairy, eggs, beans and nuts. For example, consuming three-four eggs per day would provide the extra 25g of protein needed to reduce hip fracture risk. 

The findings were published in Clinical Nutrition. 

Investigating hip fracture risk in over 26,000 women  

The investigation called Foods, nutrients and hip fracture risk: A prospective study of middle-aged women is based on a large observational analysis of more than 26,000 women. The data came from the UK Women’s Cohort Study, which recruited participants between 1995 and 1998. They filled out questionnaires about their diet and lifestyle. Within the cohort, 822 cases of hip fracture were identified. 

The observational study allowed the researchers to identify associations between factors in diet and health. They could not single out a direct cause and effect. 

James Webster, a doctoral researcher in the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds who led the study, said, “across the world, the costs to individuals and societies caused by hip fracture are enormous.   

“Hip fracture can often lead to other chronic illnesses, loss of independence, and premature death. In the UK, the annual cost to the NHS is between £2 to £3 billion. 

“Diet is a factor that people can modify to protect themselves by maintaining healthy bones and muscles. This study is one of the first to investigate relationships between food and nutrient intakes and the risk of hip fracture, with hip fractures accurately identified through hospital records.   

“The results highlight which aspects of diet may be useful tools in reducing hip fracture risk in women, with evidence of links between higher protein, tea and coffee intakes and a reduced risk.” 

It is currently recommended that UK adults consume 0.8kg per kilogramme of body weight per day; however, many experts believe this figure is too low. 

Professor Janet Cade, who leads the Nutritional Epidemiology Group at Leeds and supervised the research, said, “in the UK, most people eat an adequate amount of protein, however, certain groups, such as vegetarians or vegans need to check that their protein intakes are high enough for good health.”  

More protein benefits underweight women especially 

Underweight women may be more likely to have reduced bone mineral density and muscle mass. By increasing protein intake, these women may be able to reduce their hip fracture risk compared to healthy or overweight women. However, the researchers note that this finding needs further studies.  

Moreover, tea and coffee both contain biologically active compounds called polyphenols and phytoestrogens, which may help to maintain bone health.   

Professor Cade added, “this is an interesting finding given that tea and coffee are the UK’s favourite drinks. We still need to know more about how these drinks could affect bone health, but it might be through promoting the amount of calcium present in our bones.”


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