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    Study: Glucosamine, Chondroitin No Help for Arthritis

    Analysis Shows the Supplements Aren't Effective to Ease Pain of Hip or Knee Osteoarthritis

    Second Opinion continued...

    "The safety of these supplements has never been doubted," he says in an email. "You have to ask yourself, would you take a supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin, have about two-thirds of a chance of getting significant relief, with some evidence that you can slow your disease progression, or just numb your symptoms with acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory drugs and risk ulcers, allergies, kidney or liver damage, hypertension, heart attacks and possibly death." These are some risks that have been associated with prescription and over-the-counter painkillers.

    "The risk/benefit for glucosamine and chondroitin far outweighs that of the FDA-approved drugs for osteoarthritis," he says.

    Many Still Stand by Supplements

    Marc C. Hochberg, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and head of the division of rheumatology and clinical immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, points out that the statistical techniques used in the new study were really not designed to be applied to groups, which may cast some doubt on the way the findings are being interpreted.

    "These supplements did have a very small effect," he says. "This effect was very similar or identical to what is seen with acetaminophen, which is the first line treatment of OA according to the American College of Rheumatology and other professional organizations."

    His advice? "If patients want to use glucosamine, then they should discuss this with their physician who may recommend a particular brand and manufacturer."

    AndrewShao, PhD, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group representing supplement manufacturers, points out that the majority of published studies involving glucosamine and/or chondroitin are positive.

    "We also must recognize that consumers have voted with their wallets -- choosing to continue to derive benefits from glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, with the category experiencing significant year over year growth over the past decade," he says in an email. "If these were ineffective, then we would not observe this kind of growth."

    Finally, he says, the safety of these supplements is well recognized.

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