Tea drinking improves bone strength in older women

March 29, 2000

Hip fractures related to poor bone mineral density (BMD) are a significant cause of illness in elderly women. High caffeine intake has been reported as a risk factor for reduced BMD. However, tea contains other substances which may explain why tea drinking has a potentially beneficial effect on BMD.

In research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Hegarty et al studied a group of 1256 women ages 65-76 living near Cambridge, UK of whom 1134 were tea drinkers. Skeletal measurements were taken at the lumbar spine, femoral neck, greater trochanter, and Ward's triangle. Tea drinking was highly associated with greater BMD at all sites with the exception of the femoral neck. The beneficial effect of tea on BMD occurred independent of factors such as the addition of milk, coffee drinking, smoking, or the use of hormone replacement therapy. One of the mechanisms which the authors propose for the positive effect of tea is the presence of isoflavonoids, which have a weak estrogenic effect. Estrogen-like substances have been known to moderate bone mineral loss in menopausal and post-menopausal women.

The tea drinkers overall had a 5% greater mean BMD than non-tea drinkers. The authors equate this difference with a 10-20% decline in fracture risk.
Hegarty et al. Tea drinking and bone mineral density in older women. Am J Clin Nutr 2000; 71:1003-7.

For more information please contact Dr. K-T Khaw at kkl0l@medschl.cam.ac.uk.

This media release is provided by The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, to provide current information on nutrition-related research. This information should not be construed as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, consult your doctor.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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