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Open Access Research article

Hip fracture risk in relation to vitamin D supplementation and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials and observational studies

Jeffrey K C Lai1*, Robyn M Lucas1, Mark S Clements1, Andrew W Roddam2 and Emily Banks1

Author Affiliations

1 National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, 0200, Australia

2 Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford, Richard Doll Building, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford, OX3 7LF, UK

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:331  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-331

Published: 11 June 2010

Abstract

Background

Vitamin D supplementation for fracture prevention is widespread despite conflicting interpretation of relevant randomised controlled trial (RCT) evidence. This study summarises quantitatively the current evidence from RCTs and observational studies regarding vitamin D, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and hip fracture risk.

Methods

We undertook separate meta-analyses of RCTs examining vitamin D supplementation and hip fracture, and observational studies of serum vitamin D status (25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) level), PTH and hip fracture. Results from RCTs were combined using the reported hazard ratios/relative risks (RR). Results from case-control studies were combined using the ratio of 25(OH)D and PTH measurements of hip fracture cases compared with controls. Original published studies of vitamin D, PTH and hip fracture were identified through PubMed and Web of Science databases, searches of reference lists and forward citations of key papers.

Results

The seven eligible RCTs identified showed no significant difference in hip fracture risk in those randomised to cholecalciferol or ergocalciferol supplementation versus placebo/control (RR = 1.13[95%CI 0.98-1.29]; 801 cases), with no significant difference between trials of <800 IU/day and ≥800 IU/day. The 17 identified case-control studies found 33% lower serum 25(OH)D levels in cases compared to controls, based on 1903 cases. This difference was significantly greater in studies with population-based compared to hospital-based controls (χ21 (heterogeneity) = 51.02, p < 0.001) and significant heterogeneity was present overall (χ216 (heterogeneity) = 137.9, p < 0.001). Serum PTH levels in hip fracture cases did not differ significantly from controls, based on ten case-control studies with 905 cases (χ29 (heterogeneity) = 149.68, p < 0.001).

Conclusions

Neither higher nor lower dose vitamin D supplementation prevented hip fracture. Randomised and observational data on vitamin D and hip fracture appear to differ. The reason for this is unclear; one possible explanation is uncontrolled confounding in observational studies. Post-fracture PTH levels are unrelated to hip fracture risk.