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Glucosamine supplements ‘linked to lower cardiovascular risk’

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Regular use of glucosamine supplements may be related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease events, according to researchers analysing data from the UK Biobank study.

Their findings suggest that glucosamine may have benefits in preventing CVD events and further clinical trials are needed to test this theory, said the researchers.

“Habitual use of glucosamine supplements to relieve osteoarthritis pain might also be related to lower risks of CVD events”

Study authors

They noted that, although glucosamine was a popular dietary supplement used to relieve osteoarthritis and joint pain, its effectiveness on joint pain continued to be debated.

But they highlighted that evidence had begun to emerge that suggested glucosamine may have a role in preventing cardiovascular disease and reducing mortality.

To explore the potential links further, researchers from Tulane University in New Orleans looked at data from the UK Biobank – the population based study of more than half a million men and women.

Their analysis included 466,039 participants without CVD, who completed a questionnaire on supplement use, including glucosamine.

Death certificates and hospital records were then used to monitor CVD events, including CVD death, coronary heart disease, and stroke, over an average seven-year follow up period.

Overall, 19.3% participants reported glucosamine use at the start of the study, the findings of which are published in the British Medical Journal.

The researchers found that glucosamine use was associated with a 15% lower risk of total CVD events, and a 9% to 22% lower risk of CHD, stroke, and CVD death compared with no use.

These favourable associations remained after taking account of traditional risk factors, including age, sex, body mass index, ethnicity, lifestyle, diet, medication and other supplement use.

The link between glucosamine use and CHD was also stronger in current smokers, the researchers said, with a 37% lower risk compared with 12% for never smokers and 18% for former smokers.

Several mechanisms may explain these results, according to the study authors.

For example, regular use of glucosamine has been linked to a reduction in levels of C-reactive protein, a chemical associated with inflammation.

This potential link may also help to explain the stronger association among smokers, who have higher levels of inflammation and higher risk of CVD than non-smokers.

In addition, previous data has suggested that glucosamine may mimic a low carbohydrate diet, which has been inversely associated with the development of CVD, noted the researchers.

They stated: “Habitual use of glucosamine supplements to relieve osteoarthritis pain might also be related to lower risks of CVD events. Further clinical trials are warranted to test this hypothesis.”

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