Hip fracture, osteoporosis: calcium does not protect, fat does

Hip fractures occur frequently in older people affected by osteoporosis. A study suggests that the fatty nature of the diet could help reduce the risk of bone mass loss and thus reduce the incidence of these fractures.

Nearly 30% of seniors fall at least once each year and these falls are by far the most common cause of accidental injury in this age group. Hip fractures represent one of the most unfortunate consequences of these falls, with nearly 25,000 hospitalizations per year directly attributable to this type of fracture. In addition to causing great pain, hip fractures lead to a dramatic deterioration in the quality and life expectancy of those affected: during the year following a hip fracture, approximately 25% of people sufferers die, 20% have to leave their homes for a long-term care facility and 40% become unable to move on their own. Not to mention that ongoing health care and social services for people who have suffered this type of fracture are very expensive.

Calcium supplement does not prevent fracture risk or correct osteoporosis

This increased risk of hip fracture in older people is largely caused by a deterioration in bone strength due to osteoporosis. As its name suggests, osteoporosis is characterized by bones that become increasingly porous and fragile, thereby increasing the risk of fractures during impacts or falls. Unfortunately, this weakening of bone mass is very common. It has long been known that the nature of the diet has a decisive influence on the risk of being affected by this deterioration of the bones. Perhaps the best-known example is calcium, a mineral essential for maintaining adequate bone mass density.

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It is for this reason that an adequate intake of calcium as well as vitamin D (a vitamin that ensures adequate absorption of calcium) is one of the main recommendations for preventing this disease. Surprisingly, however, studies indicate that North American women, who consume nearly 1000 mg daily

of calcium, are ten times more affected by hip fractures than those in some Asian countries who consume less than 500 mg per day.

So, even if calcium is essential for maintaining bone density, other parameters are certainly involved in this phenomenon.

Bone mass: good fat strengthens, bad fat weakens

A study suggests that the nature of fat in the diet may play an important role in the incidence of hip fractures caused by osteoporosis. Using data acquired by the Women’s Health Initiative, a large US study involving 137,486 women, the researchers noticed significant differences in the incidence of hip fractures depending on the type of fat that was consumed by the participants.

Thus, women who eat a large amount of saturated fat, fat found mainly in red meats and whole dairy products, have a 30% greater risk of suffering a hip fracture compared to those who eat very little. little. Conversely, regular consumption of monounsaturated fats (olive oil) or polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oils) is associated with a reduction of around 10% in the risk. These observations are in agreement with previous results showing that a high intake of saturated fat was associated with a reduction in bone mineral density at the hips.

In addition to the well-documented detrimental effects of saturated fats on the risk of heart disease, these observations highlight how these fats have a negative impact on overall health.

Replacing these fats with fats of vegetable origin, in particular olive oil and oils rich in omega-3 polyunsaturates (flax seeds for example), is a very simple way to improve the quality fats brought to the body and thus contribute to the prevention of several diseases, including those affecting our bone mass.

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Willett, WC. Eat, drink and be healthy: The Harvard medical school guide to healthy eating. New York

Orchard TS et al. Fatty acid consumption and risk of fracture in the Women’s Health Initiative. Am J Clin Nutr. 92: 1452-1460. Corwin RL et al. Dietary saturated fat intake is inversely associated with bone density in humans: analysis of NHANES III. J Nutr. 136: 159-165.


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