Caffeine intake & bone density..what’s the scoop?November 11th, 2015
By Morgan Bailey, PharmD Student Cedarville University School of Pharmacy
In college and even in the workplace, caffeine has consumed our lives. Our generation turns to caffeine to give us the burst of energy that we need to make it through the day. According to Healthresearchfunding.org, almost 90% of people in the world consume at least one beverage with caffeine in it daily.1 These beverages would include coffee, energy drinks and soda or pop. Caffeine is considered to be a stimulant to the body, which is why whenever you drink a lot of caffeine you tend to feel more energized and awake. Even though we may get a great feeling from these drinks, are they really being beneficial to our bodies? Recent evidence debates whether consuming large amounts of caffeine can increase your risk for osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is condition where your bones become brittle and can make you become more at risk of breaking or fracturing your bones. Research on this topic leads some to believe that the caffeine stops the absorption of calcium in the bones, therefore causing them to become thin. Studies have also shown that caffeine acts on the bone promoting an increase of calcium excretion, inhibition of osteoblast proliferation and delay in tissue repair process, raising the risk of fractures, osteoporosis, periodontal disease and affecting the success of bone reconstructive procedures.2, 3
In 2015, The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study looking at the influence of dietary patterns on bone mineral density and osteoporosis. This was a cross-sectional study that looked at Brazilian women aged 45 and over. The five categories retained were; “healthy”, red meats and refined cereals”, “low-fat dairy”, “sweet foods, coffee and teas”, and “western”. After analyzing that data that they received, they found that excessive sweet foods and caffeinated beverages appeared to have a negative affect on the bone mineral density. Although the study did find a negative effect on the bone density, they could not make a direct link to increased risk of osteoporosis. This was also a cross-sectional study, which was only looking at a specific time period; other results may have been revealed with a longer follow up study.4 In addition, recall bias may have affected the results due to patients self-reporting diet. There was also not any specific type of caffeine separated out (ie is there a difference between coffee, tea, or soda).
Similar findings were found in a 2006 study that found women with high coffee consumption, more than four cups a day, had an increase risk of bone fractures.5 On the other hand, a 2012 systemic review of multiple trials, concluded coffee intake did not increase risk of bone fractures, however suggested more research is needed.6 In 2013, a study was conducted on the long-term effects of coffee consumption and how that relates to the risk of bone fractures. The researchers found that there was no increased risk when the women drank low amounts of coffee, but when they drank more than four cups per day then they found that there could be a reduction in density of the bones.7 This cannot be directly linked to osteoporosis, but is considered a possible risk factor.
While it is not completely clear whether or not caffeine intake (or which type of caffeine) can increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures, there is a lot of promising research being done to answer these questions. It appears there is a trend that over 4 cups a day may be an issue. If you are someone that drinks a lot of caffeine throughout the day, you could discuss supplementing with calcium and/or vitamin D and also consider limiting the amount of caffeine that you consume in a day and increase exercise.8, 9
Even though you may not be seeing the results of your caffeine intake now, would you still drink the same amount of caffeine if you knew that it could potentially hurt you in the future?
- 25 Shocking Caffeine Addition Statistics. HRF website. http://healthresearchfunding.org/shocking-caffeine-addiction-statistics/. August 30, 2014. Accessed October 20, 2015.
- Hallstrom H. Coffee consumption in relation to osteoporosis and fractures: Observational studies in men and women. DiVA. 2013.
- Vanin, Carla, Harter ,Danielle, Ribeiro RV,Pinto, Kato ,Sergio, Dibi R,Papandreus, Stein ,Airton. Effects of caffeine intake on bone tissue in an animal model of osteoporosis. 2015. 10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.02.185
- De Franca N.A.G., Camargo M.B.R., Lazaretti-Castro M., Peters B.S.E., Martini L.A. Dietary patterns and bone mineral density in brazilian postmenopausal women with osteoporosis: A cross-sectional study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015; doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.27. [Epub ahead of print]
- Hallstrom H, Wolk A, Glynn A, Michaelsson K. Coffee, tea and caffeine consumption in relation to osteoporotic fracture risk in a cohort of swedish women. Osteoporos Int. 2006; 17(7):1055-1064.
- Huifang L, Ke Y, Wenjie Z, Jun Z, Taixiang W, Chengqi H. Systematic review/Meta-analysis coffee consumption and risk of fractures: A meta-analysis. Arch Med Sci. 2012;8(5).
- Hallstrom H, Byberg L, Glynn A, Lemming EW, Wolk A, Michaelsson K. Long-term coffee consumption in relation to fracture risk and bone mineral density in women. Am J Epidemiol. 2013; 178(6):898-909.
- Sanders S, Geraci SA. Osteoporosis in postmenopausal women: Considerations in prevention and treatment: (women’s health series). South Med J. 2013; 106(12): 698-706.
- Suzanne Sanders, M.D., Stephen A. Geraci, M.D. Osteoporosis in postmenopausal women: Considerations in prevention and treatment (women’s health series).