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Background: The risk of hip fracture in women on plant-based diets is unclear. We aimed to investigate the risk of hip fracture in occasional meat-eaters, pescatarians, and vegetarians compared to regular meat-eaters in the UK Women’s Cohort Study and to determine if potential associations between each diet group and hip fracture risk are modified by body mass index (BMI).
Methods: UK women, ages 35–69 years, were classified as regular meat-eaters (≥ 5 servings/week), occasional meat-eaters (< 5 servings/week), pescatarian (ate fish but not meat), or vegetarian (ate neither meat nor fish) based on a validated 217-item food frequency questionnaire completed in 1995–1998. Incident hip fractures were identified via linkage to Hospital Episode Statistics up to March 2019. Cox regression models were used to estimate the associations between each diet group and hip fracture risk over a median follow-up time of 22.3 years.
Results: Amongst 26,318 women, 822 hip fracture cases were observed (556,331 person-years). After adjustment for confounders, vegetarians (HR (95% CI) 1.33 (1.03, 1.71)) but not occasional meat-eaters (1.00 (0.85, 1.18)) or pescatarians (0.97 (0.75, 1.26)) had a greater risk of hip fracture than regular meat-eaters. There was no clear evidence of effect modification by BMI in any diet group (p-interaction = 0.3).
Conclusions: Vegetarian women were at a higher risk of hip fracture compared to regular meat-eaters. Further research is needed to confirm this in men and non-European populations and to identify factors responsible for the observed risk difference. Further research exploring the role of BMI and nutrients abundant in animal-sourced foods is recommended.
Darren C Greenwood,Janet E Cade
James Webster,Darren C Greenwood,Janet E Cade