The magnitude of the reduction observed in levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an established marker of inflammation, is similar to levels observed with statins, report researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the University of Washington, Seattle.
“This study adds biologic plausibility to previous studies which have shown beneficial effects of these supplements on chronic diseases,” they wrote in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
“Given the number of diseases with which inflammation is associated, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, there is a need to find safe and effective ways to reduce inflammation.
“Research suggests that these 3 supplements have excellent safety profiles, supporting their potential role in disease prevention. It is therefore important that the potential anti-inflammatory role of these supplements be further investigated.”
And the others?
On the flip side, the Seattle-based scientists report that no impact on CRP levels was found for a range of other supplements, including MSM, pycnogenol-containing supplements, garlic, ginkgo, or saw palmetto.
By way of explanation, they noted: “Power may have been limited to detect associations in less commonly used supplements; it is also possible that these supplements may affect inflammation downstream of CRP or that these supplements may not be associated with inflammation in humans.”
Elizabeth Kantor and her co-workers analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of 9,947 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The results showed that with regular use of glucosamine, chondroitin, and fish oil supplements was associated with reductions in CRP of 17%, 22%, and 16%, respectively.
“To our knowledge, this is the largest study that has investigated the association between use of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements and a marker of inflammation in humans,” they said.
“[Other] studies, plus our current study in a representative US population, provide evidence for the anti-inflammatory effects of long-chain omega-3 PUFAs in humans, and they support one of several mechanisms by which long-chain omega-3 PUFA intake may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and total mortality.”
Source: American Journal of Epidemiology
2012, Volume 176, Number 11, Pages 1002-13. doi: 10.1093/aje/kws186
“Association between use of specialty dietary supplements and C-reactive protein concentrations”
Authors: E.D. Kantor, J.W. Lampe, T.L. Vaughan, U. Peters, C.D. Rehm, E. White