Reports show wrist fractures are the most commonly occurring fracture in women under 75 in the U.S. and Europe. Because some studies show that vegetarians consume less protein than non-vegetarians, there has been concern that a vegetarian diet may not provide enough protein to maintain healthy bones. Studies by Dr. Donna Thorpe and her colleagues examined diet practices and wrist fracture numbers over a 25-year period among 1,865 women who participated in AHS-1 and AHS-2.

Wrist Fracture Findings

Women who reported fractures were more likely to:

  • Be older.
  • Have a history of fractures.
  • Report low or no vigorous physical activity.
  • Have experienced menopause more than 15 years earlier.
  • Have no history of using supplemental hormones.

Other Findings

  • Among vegetarians, increasing vegetable protein reduced the risk of fracture.
  • Among those who ate the lowest amount of vegetable protein, increasing meat intake decreased the risk of fracture.
  • Curiously, for non-vegetarians, the risk of fracture tended to increase when consuming higher levels of plant-based protein foods. One possible explanation is that the sodium in processed protein foods competes with calcium in the kidneys.
  • Additionally, the risk of arm, elbow and hip fractures for Adventists was lower than for the general population.