Animal Protein Consumption Associated With Bone Density in Elderly Women

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Apr 10 – Dietary animal protein appears to play a protective role in the skeletal health of older women, according to a report in the April 1st issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

In a prospective study, Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, of the University of California, San Diego, in La Jolla, California, and colleagues examined the associations of total, animal, and vegetable protein with bone mineral density (BMD) and bone loss in 572 women and 388 men between the ages of 55 and 92 years.

“Multiple linear regression analyses adjusted for standard osteoporosis covariates showed a positive association between animal protein consumption, assessed by food frequency questionnaires in 1988-1992, and BMD, measured 4 years later,” the investigators report.

The association was significant in women. For them, BMD increased by 0.016 g/cm at the hip (p = 0.005) for every 15-g/day increase in animal protein intake. BMD was also increased at the femoral neck, spine, and total body by 0.012 g/cm (p = 0.02), 0.015 g/cm (p = 0.08), and 0.010 g/cm (p = 0.04), respectively.

Vegetable protein was negatively associated with BMD in both men and women.

“These findings, along with the intriguing observation of a negative association between vegetable protein consumption and BMD, have significant implications for osteoporosis prevention strategies and warrant further investigation in elderly cohorts,” Dr. Barrett-Connor and colleagues conclude.

Am J Epidemiol 2002;155:636-644.

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