Hip fractures can lead to a decline in self-reliance, diminished quality of life, and feelings of depression. However, some research suggests that consuming fish and omega-3 fatty acids influences a person’s risk of experiencing a hip fracture. A 2019 meta-analysis and systematic review found that higher fish and omega-3 intake reduces the risk of hip fracture by as much as 12 percent.
Researchers reviewed the findings of 10 studies involving nearly 300,000 people. Seven of the studies followed people over time (prospective), and three compared groups with and without fractures (case-control).
They found that people who consumed more fish had a lower risk of hip fractures, even when combining the results from prospective and case-control studies. They found the same protective effect for those who consumed higher omega-3s in their diets. Notably, the protective effect of fish and omega-3 intake remained only when considering larger prospective studies (involving 10,000 participants or more) or studies that included body mass index as a factor.
These findings suggest that dietary intake of fish and omega-3s might promote bone health and reduce the risk of hip fractures. Other studies have proposed mechanisms by which omega-3s exert their beneficial effects. For example, one study found that DHA inhibits osteoclast formation and subsequent bone resorption by inhibiting the production of TNF-alpha, a pro-inflammatory molecule. A separate study demonstrated that resolvin, a byproduct of omega-3 metabolism, promotes bone preservation under inflammatory conditions and influences the PI3K-AKT pathway, a major signaling pathway implicated in many human diseases, including osteoporosis.
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