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Chondroitin alone has been found not to reduce the hip and knee pain felt by people who have osteoarthritis

April 17, 2007

Source: Reuters

A new study finds that chondroitin does little to help people who suffer from arthritis.

According to European researchers, the dietary supplement is no better than a placebo at easing hip and knee pain felt by arthritis patients and they advise that people stop using it.

Chondroitin sulfate is a building block of cartilage and is sold in health food stores all over the US and Canada in conjunction with glucosamine. People swear that it is very good at easing their arthritis pain, a fact that the researchers state is impossible.

"Currently, we do not have any evidence to suggest that chondroitin helps decrease pain more than placebo," said Peter Juni, an epidemiologist whose study appears in this week's Annals of Internal Medicine.

"The good news is we do not have evidence to suggest that chondroitin is unsafe," he said in a telephone interview.

"High-quality studies don't show any effect," he said.

On the other hand, studies have proven that chondroitin can be quite beneficial. The largest one to side with the use of chondroitin was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health that found that chondroitin was used in combination with glucosamine to ease the pain of patients with osteoarthritis.

"Bottom line, chondroitin, especially when combined with glucosamine, is safe and effective, and compared to the other options for arthritis pain, it's one of the few options without dangerous side effects," Daniel Fabricant, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the association, said in a statement.

With studies stating for and against the use of the supplement, what are consumers to do? Juni believes that since the product will not offer any health negatives, then if people feel that it is working for them then they should continue taking it.

"We actually need beneficial therapies for our patients," he said. "One has to be objective about potential benefits relative to the cost."

Source: Reuters

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