According to new research, increasing protein intake and drinking regular cups of tea or coffee can help women reduce their risk of hip fracture. Food scientists discovered that a 25g increase in protein per day for women was associated with a 14% reduction in their risk of hip fracture. In an unexpected twist, they discovered that every additional cup of tea or coffee they drank was associated with a 4% decrease in risk.
According to new research, women can reduce their risk of hip fracture by increasing their protein intake and drinking regular cups of tea or coffee. Food scientists at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom discovered that a 25g increase in protein per day was associated with a 14% reduction in the risk of hip fracture in women. In an unexpected twist, they discovered that every additional cup of tea or coffee they drank was associated with a 4% reduction in risk.
The researchers noted in the journal Clinical Nutrition that the protective benefits were greater for underweight women, with a 25g/day increase in protein lowering their risk by 45%.
The protein could come in any form: meat, dairy or eggs; and for people on a plant-based diet, from beans, nuts or legumes. Three to four eggs would provide around 25g of protein as would a steak or piece of salmon. 100g of tofu would provide about 17g of protein. Just over 3% of the women in the study group experienced a hip fracture.
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.Professor Cade
The investigation – 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. As an observational study, the researchers were able to identify associations between factors in diet and health. They could not single out direct cause and effect.
James Webster, a doctoral researcher in the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds who led the study, said:
“The costs of hip fracture to individuals and societies around the world are enormous. Hip fractures frequently result in other chronic illnesses, loss of independence, and premature death. In the United Kingdom, the annual cost to the NHS ranges between £2 and £3 billion. Diet is one factor that people can change to protect themselves by maintaining healthy bones and muscles. This is one of the first studies to look into the links between food and nutrient intake and the risk of hip fracture, with hip fractures accurately identified through hospital records. The findings 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 intake and lower risk.”
Proteins are the basic building blocks of life and are needed to keep cells, tissues, and muscles working properly as well as contribute to bone health.
The recommended protein intake in the UK is 0.8g per kilogram of body weight per day, which some nutritional experts believe is too low. The study found that people who consumed more protein had a lower risk of hip fracture. However, excessive protein consumption (more than 2 to 3g of protein/kg body weight/day) can be harmful to one’s health. The study was unable to investigate these extremely high levels of protein intake.
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.”
Why underweight women may see greater risk reductions
Underweight women are more likely to have low bone mineral density and muscle mass. By assisting in the establishment or restoration of bone and muscle health, increasing intakes of several foods and nutrients, particularly protein, may help reduce hip fracture risk more in underweight women than in healthy or overweight women. However, the researchers point out that more research is needed to confirm this finding. Both tea and coffee contain biologically active compounds known as polyphenols and phytoestrogens, which may aid in 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.”
UK Women’s Cohort Study
The study’s data came from the UK Women’s Cohort Study, which recruited women between 1995 and 1998. The women were between the ages of 35 and 69 when they began the study.
They were asked to fill out questionnaires about their diet and lifestyle when they were hired. This data was then linked to hospital records from the next two decades, revealing how many people had suffered a hip fracture or had their hip replaced. There were 822 cases of hip fracture among the 26,318 women in the study, representing 3.1%.