Glucosamine and chondroitin are supplements commonly used to support joint health. But a new study reports that these supplements may also support colon health via anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
Data from the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow up Study published in the International Journal of Cancer, report that these two supplements were associated with a 23% reduction in the risk of colorectal (colon) cancer.
Joint Pain and Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of inflammatory joint disease, characterized by the degradation of articular cartilage (found on many joint surfaces), with periarticular (tissues surrounding a joint) bone response often damaging the end of bone. Clinical manifestations of OA of the knee include pain in and around the joint, stiffness of the joint after rest, crepitation (crackling sound) on motion and limited joint motion, among others.
Lifestyle changes including exercise, weight loss, an anti-inflammatory diet and other therapies have been recommended but typically acetaminophen and NSAIDs are used to manage the symptoms of arthritis, especially pain. The long-term use of these drugs, however, is associated with enhanced risk for gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, hypertension, congestive heart failure and renal insufficiency. People suffering from arthritis have turned to nutraceuticals or natural products to ease their pain and discomfort. A number of these nutraceuticals have been studied and used for many years and have proven to be well tolerated, as well as safe. Supplements can assist in regenerating healthy joint cartilage, and address the pain and inflammation that otherwise trigger a cascade causing further break down of healthy cartilage.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Glucosamine is naturally found in the human body and is involved in the creation of the molecules that form cartilage. Numerous clinical studies show glucosamine greatly benefits individuals suffering from osteoarthritis, as it has been shown to strengthen cartilage. As we age, exercise, and/or gain weight, the wear-and-tear of joints increases for many individuals, leading to occasional pains and discomfort in the knees, hips, back and elbows.
Chondroitin is also naturally found in the body in cartilage and bone. Numerous clinical studies show it may reduce pain and inflammation and support joint function, also benefitting individuals suffering from osteoarthritis. Together, Glucosamine and Chondroitin have been shown to help sustain abilities to take part in daily activities without joint pain.
Researchers report, “Results of this study suggest a potential beneficial effect of glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation on risk of colorectal cancer, and further support the previously observed association between use of these supplements and risk of colorectal cancer in the VITAL study. Additional studies are needed to better understand the association between the use of glucosamine and chondroitin and risk of colorectal cancer, and the mechanisms by which these supplements may affect risk of colorectal cancer.”
The study analyzed data from 68,466 women and 27,934 men, which yielded 672 cases of colorectal cancer. Researchers found the use of glucosamine was associated with 21% reduction in risk, while use of chondroitin was associated with a 23% reduction. The use of the two supplements together was “significantly associated with a 23% reduction in risk”, according to Dr. Elizabeth Kantor and her co-workers from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.