Joint health supplements touted as colorectal cancer preventers

By Oliver Nieburg contact

- Last updated on GMT

Glucosamine and chondroitin reduces colorectal cancer risk 45%. Not statistically significant but warrants further exploration, says study
Glucosamine and chondroitin reduces colorectal cancer risk 45%. Not statistically significant but warrants further exploration, says study

Related tags: Colorectal cancer, Cancer

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, conventionally used for joint health, may have the potential to guard against colorectal cancer, according to researchers.

A study published in Cancer Causes Control​ by Kantor et al.​ suggests that glucosamine together with chondroitin may act as an anti-inflammatory to offset the development of colorectal cancer.

45% reduced risk

High use of the supplements was found to reduce colorectal cancer risk by 45% compared to non-use, however this was below the researchers’ threshold to be statistically significant.

But they concluded: “Since colorectal cancer is major cause of morbidity and mortality, it is important that we seek potential preventive strategies which are safe, effective, and easily implemented.

“Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have been shown to be safe and are already widely used, and it is therefore important that we seek to better understand the suggestive association between use of these supplements and CRC.”

Glucosamine and chondroitin are often coupled together in a single supplement and are used by around 7.4% of older adults in the US, according to the study.

These supplements are normally used to prevent joint health – though the effects on bone health are in some debate after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) rejected a claim.

Method and results

To explore the effects on colorectal cancer, study participants were chosen from the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL), a cohort of 75,137 Washington residents aged 50-76, who filled out a questionnaire which indicated how often they used glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.

Participants were classed in three categories: high use (four or more days of supplementation a week, low use (below four), and non-use.

The high use group were found 45% less likely to develop colorectal cancer.

The researchers noted that glucosamine and chondroitin users were more likely to consume more vegetable, exercise more and ate less processed red meat than non-users.

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have previously been associated with reduced risk of lung cancer and total mortality in the VITAL study.

Cancer Causes & Control, ​June 2013, Vol. 24, Issue 6, pp 1137-1146
DOI 10.1007/s10552-013-0192-2
‘Use of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements and risk of colorectal cancer’
Authors: E. D. Kantor, J. W. Lampe, U. Peters, D. D. Shen, T. L. Vaughan, E. White

Related topics: Research, Cancer risk reduction

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