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Raw food vegetarians have low bone mass

ive protein, which is made by the liver as a response to inflammation in the body. They also had lower levels of IGF-1, one of the most important growth factors regulated by calorie and protein intake. High levels of IGF-1 have been linked to risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.

And in spite of the fact that the raw food group didn't drink milk or eat cheese, they had higher vitamin D levels than people on a typical, Western diet. Fontana attributes the vitamin D levels to sun exposure.

"These people are clever enough to expose themselves to sunlight to increase their concentrations of vitamin D," he says. "I thought vitamin D might be a problem for them, but it was not."

Fontana also measured levels of the hormone leptin, which seems to play an important role in the regulation of bone metabolism. In some transgenic mice, low leptin levels are related to high bone mass. But interestingly, the raw food dieters had both low levels of leptin and low bone mass.

In short, the people on the raw food diet are lighter with lower body fat. They have less bone, but they have normal markers of bone turnover, higher-than-normal vitamin D and very low levels of leptin and inflammatory markers.

So are their bones healthy or not? Fontana says he's not sure. Current clinical measurements would indicate that many in this group have osteoporosis or less severe bone loss called osteopenia. But with low levels of inflammation, normal bone turnover and high vitamin D, Fontana says the usual clinical parameters may not apply.

"For example, post-menopausal, frail women with osetoporosis have low bone mass and an increased risk of fracture," he says. "But they also have increased circulating levels of inflammatory molecules called cyotkines. That's a different biologic condition from what we are seeing in the raw food vegans."

So he is proposing the hypothesis that in spite of their low bone mass, those on raw food diets actua
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Contact: Jim Dryden
jdryden@wustl.edu
314-286-0110
Washington University School of Medicine
28-Mar-2005


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