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More Evidence That Glucosamine, Chondroitin Won't Help Ailing Joints
Date:9/17/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Although millions take supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis in their hips and knees, there is no evidence that these supplements have any healing effect, finds a new analysis of large-scale studies.

This latest report is one of several that have found no beneficial effect of either supplement in relieving arthritic pain. But since there is no evidence that the pills cause harm, the new report's authors say there's no reason to stop taking them if individuals think they are being helped.

On the other hand, "if a patient hasn't had these preparations [already], it doesn't make sense that he or she should be encouraged to take these supplements," said lead researcher Dr. Peter Juni, head of the division of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern in Switzerland.

The bottom line, according to Juni: "None of the two supplements we evaluated appears to have any clinically relevant benefit in terms of pain relief that could be detected by patients with knee or hip arthritis."

The report is published in the Sept. 17 online edition of the BMJ.

Over the past 10 years doctors have prescribed supplemental glucosamine and chondroitin and many millions around the world have bought them over-the-counter, the researchers said.

According to background information in the study, in 2008 sales of glucosamine supplements around the world reached almost $2 billion -- about a 60 percent increase since 2003.

For the new study, Juni's team analyzed the results of 10 randomized clinical trials involving more than 3,800 patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis. The trials -- which all compared people taking the supplements to a control group that was not taking them -- focused on any changes in levels of
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