Glucosamine Tied to Heart Benefits

Glucosamine, the dietary supplement widely used for arthritic pain, may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, researchers report.

Scientists looked at 466,039 British men and women, ages 40 to 69, who were free of cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. Participants completed detailed health questionnaires that included information on the use of dietary supplements. Nearly 90,000 of them, or 19 percent, reported regular use of glucosamine. The study, in BMJ, tracked the participants’ health for an average of seven years.

Compared with those who did not use the supplement, glucosamine users had an 18 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, and a 15 percent lower risk of any cardiovascular event. There was a weak association with a lowered risk for stroke.

The study controlled for diet, physical activity, smoking, disease history and other characteristics.

“This is good news for people who take these supplements,” said the senior author, Lu Qi, a professor of epidemiology at Tulane University. But before recommending its use, he added, “we really need additional data from population studies and further, more solid data from clinical trials.”

The exact reason for the link is not known, but the researchers suggest that glucosamine may reduce inflammation by lowering blood levels of C reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation, or by mimicking the effect of a low-carbohydrate diet, which some studies have suggested is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers note that effectiveness of glucosamine in patients with osteoarthritis and joint pain continues to be debated.

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