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Recent Studies on Glucosamine

New test results back glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis

By Robert Bazell NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT


On December 13, 2001, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT Robert Bazell reported on the NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw that new test results from Consumer's Union backs glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis .

Robert Bazell's HealthBeat report on the well-respected NBC Nightly News reported that "Consumer's Union, the independent testing group, said the supplements not only relieve pain but can actually rebuild damaged joints."

"The good thing about them is that they appear to actually build up the structure of the joint, lubricate it, strengthen it, and so on, in a way more so than a simple painkiller would do," said Dr. Geoffrey Martin of Consumer's Union. The report pointed out that the two supplements appear to be free of side effects while aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs can cause stomach problems. Some studies even suggest that the newer drugs for osteoarthritis called Cox-2 inhibitors might increase the risk of heart attack. In response to these findings, Consumer's Union Health Editor Ronni Sandroff said, "we're excited that there is a dietary supplement that people can take that might help."

NBC News reported that Consumer Labs found that most brands actually contain the amounts of pure supplements claimed on the label. So the group recommends people buy the least expensive products, which cost about 45 cents a day. They must have been checking the epic4health web site as our Maximum Strength Glucosamine (1500mg) and Chondroitin (1200mg) formula costs about 44 cents a day!

The last point that Robert Bazell, chief science correspondent for NBC News, made in this report was that many doctors are suggesting their patients give these supplements a try. This might be something you'd like to discuss with your health care professional.

EUROPEAN STUDY CONFIRMS BENEFITS OF GLUCOSAMINE IN OSTEOARTHRITIS

References: Reginster JY, Deroisy R, Rovati LC, et al. A randomised placebo controlled clinical trial on the long-term effects of glucosamine sulphate on osteoarthritis progression. Published in the Lancet, 2001;357: 251-256 and 247-248.

Digitized x-rays were used by Jean Yves Reginster, MD of the University of Liege, Belgium and Belgium, Italian and British researchers to carefully measure the rate of knee damage in 106 patients with osteoarthritis. The subjects took either 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate or a placebo daily for three years.

Those who took the glucosamine had an average negligible loss of 0.06 millimeters in joint space with many patients actually improving and showing no loss at all. On the other hand, the people taking the placebo had a much larger loss of 0.31 millimeters in joint space. Dr. Reginster reported in Lancet that "patients who completed treatment with glucosamine sulfate had a 20 to 25 percent improvement of symptoms, compared with the slight worsening of symptoms in the placebo group.

Glucosamine may slow progression of osteoarthritis.

On Jan. 25 2001, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT Robert Bazell reported on the NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw that the dietary supplement glucosamine sulfate may help slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

Robert Bazell's HealthBeat report on the well respected NBC Nightly News went as follows:

Earlier research found that glucosamine can dull the pain of osteoarthritis ó the painful stiffening of the joints that afflicts 21 million, mostly older, Americans ó but experts say this weekís report in The Lancet medical journal is the first to show that the supplement improves the structure of the joints.

"Iím very excited about this study, actually, because this is one of the first studies that does what we call a randomized control," said Dr. Joseph Markenson of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Researchers at the University of Liege, Belgium, divided 212 arthritis patients into two groups: half received glucosamine daily for three years, the others were given placebos. They found glucosamine improved symptoms by about 25 percent. But more important: X-rays showed that cartilage, the cushion between the bones at the joints, remained stable in those taking glucosamine. In those receiving the placebo pills, the cartilage shrank, indicating the arthritis continued to get worse. Side effects were the same for both pills.

"This is one of the first drugs to come out ó even though itís a food substance ó that actually can demonstrate in a controlled manner that it may stop the progression of osteoarthritis," Markenson said.

Glucosamine sulfate is a synthetic version of a bodily substance that helps build cartilage. It was first marketed to treat horses. Many experts were skeptical initially but the growing body of research is changing some doctorsí minds.

"In many ways itís astonishing. Itís a challenge to the traditional scientific paradigm," said Dr. Tim McAlindor, an arthritis expert at Boston University Medical Center.

Robert Bazell is the chief science correspondent for NBC News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.