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A 1:1 matched case-control study on dietary protein intakes and hip fracture risk in Chinese elderly men and women

Z-M Liu 1Q Huang 1S-Y Li 1Y-P Liu 2Y Wu 1S-J Zhang 1B-L Li 3Y-M Chen 4

Osteoporos Int. 2021 Apr 22.

 doi: 10.1007/s00198-021-05960-0. 


The role of protein intake in bone has been controversial. Our case-control study among Chinese elderly concluded that a higher consumption of protein, even substituted for fat, is associated with lowered hip fracture risk. Differences in protein sources, amino acids composition, gender, and calcium sufficiency may explain the inconsistency.

Purpose: The aim of the study was to investigate the association of dietary protein intakes with hip fracture risk among Chinese elderly.

Methods: This was a 1:1 age and sex matched cross-sectional study of case-control design among 1070 pairs of elderly Chinese people aged 55 to 80 years. Patients who were newly diagnosed (within 2-week) hip fracture by X-ray were recruited from four hospitals in Guangdong Province of China. Dietary intakes were evaluated by a validated food frequency questionnaire for total protein, protein from different sources, amino acids profiles, and estimated renal acid load in diet.

Results: Daily average intakes of total protein were 58.1±27.0 (women) and 65.7±31.8 (men) g/d for cases, and 66.8±21.5 (women) and 72.1±24.4 (men) for controls (p<0.001). Multivariable regression indicated that, compared with the lowest quartile, the highest quartile of consumption of energy adjusted total protein [OR: 0.360 (0.206~0.630) for women and 0.381 (0.153~0.949) for men] and animal protein [0.326 (0.183, 0.560) for women and 0.335 (0.136~0.828) for men] was significantly associated with the lowered risk of hip fracture in a dose-response manner (all p for trend <0.05). A significant hip fracture risk reduction was observed in women with higher intakes of sulfur amino acids [OR: 0.464 (0.286~0.753)] and aromatic amino acids [0.537 (0.326~0.884)] but not in men. Subgroup analysis suggested that these associations were more evident in elderly with lower body mass index and dietary calcium intake less than 400 mg/d.

Conclusions: A higher level of protein intake, even substituted for fat, is associated with lowered hip fracture risk.