Caffeine and bone health

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Osteoporosis has been defined as ‘a disease characterized by low bone mass and micro-architectural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to enhanced bone fragility and consequent increase in fracture risk’. Like many chronic diseases it is multi-factorial. Risk factors for osteoporosis include age, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, level of physical activity and calcium intake. Caffeine intake has often been associated with an increased risk of osteoporotic fracture and despite weak evidence it is often suggested that women should limit their caffeine intake in order to minimise risk.

The majority of reports available failed to find any significant effects of caffeine on bone density. A review of 32 observational studies performed in 200242 indicated no overall negative effect of caffeine on bone health. Potentially negative effects on bone mineral density were recorded mainly in populations with insufficient calcium intake or very high coffee consumption (over 9 cups daily). In fact, there is no evidence that caffeine has any harmful effects on bone or calcium status in subjects who ingest the recommended daily amounts of calcium42. A recent meta-analysis43 suggests an increased risk of fractures potentially related to overall coffee intake, especially for women. However, results from a recent cohort study suggest that caffeine consumption may be associated with a modest decrease in bone mineral density but this does not translate into a substantially increased risk of incidence of osteoporosis or fractures typically associated with osteoporosis44. Thus, as concluded by Liu et al43, current data are insufficient to reach a convincing conclusion and further research needs to be conducted.

 

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