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From: Craig ( -
Subject: Re: The other thing is . . .
Date: October 25, 2006 at 12:25 pm PST

In Reply to: Re: The other thing is . . . posted by Chloe on October 15, 2006 at 9:45 am:


I became interested in your post because you referred to the AJCN, one of my favorite journals. I have it on speed dial and refer to it constantly. May I recommend it without sounding like it's a plug?

It may be that your question requires an anwswer that is not quite instant. There have been several studies of diet and bone mineral density, and I'm not sure which one your source referred to. Whichever it was, the AJCN is not quite as certain about that conclusion as you might have heard.

There was the Framingham Osteoporosis Study in 2002, but it's conclusion was that "high fruit and vegetable intake appears to be protective [of BMD] in men."

Now, in 2003--this may be what you had heard about--there was some indication that some bones fared better when menopausal women had a higher [meat] protein intake, but only if they also had a high calcium intake, and tehn only in certain bones like the femur. That study found no association between protein intake and bone density in the hip, nor in a wider study associated with that study. They may not have given the wider study enough time, however.

Then, in 2006, a study of younger (not yet menopausal) Japanese women found that the women who ate a diet high in vegetables, fruit, and fish had higher BMD than did Japanese women who ate a more western diet of meat and processed foods. The bone loss of those western-eating women, however, was not much, just barely above the error rate, so it was only barely detectable.

So there you have it for the moment, I think: there's no indication that meat hurts or helps BMD in women. Vegetables (and thus low or no meat) help men keep their BMD.

Would we want to decide whether to eat meat or not on one area of investigation? Nutrition is a bit wider than BMD, I think, and what meat eating does to heart disease and cancer rates is well known.

Would I rather have brittle bones or a plugged heart? H'm...

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