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Regular use of glucosamine, chondroitin, or fish oil supplements significantly reduces high-sensitivityC-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a marker of inflammation, according to a new study.
Inflammation is now recognized as a factor in cancer and cardiovascular disease as well as many rheumatoid diseases. A number of over-the-counter dietary supplements are being marketed for the purpose of reducing inflammation, though evidence supporting the claims are limited.
To address this situation, Elizabeth D. Kantor, from the Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, and colleagues analyzed data on dietary supplements and hs-CRP in 9947 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
In participants who regularly used a supplement, the researchers found hs-CRP reductions of
a) 17% reduction with glucosamine,
b) 22% reduction with chondroitin
c) 16% reduction with fish oil
compared with participants who did not take the supplements. The analyses were adjusted for age, gender, race, smoking history, and body mass index.
The supplements methylsulfonylmethane, garlic, ginkgo biloba, saw palmetto, and pycnogenol were not associated with reduced inflammation.
This current study provides a plausible biologic mechanism by which these supplements may reduce risk of these diseases. The fact that these supplements have already been associated with the clinically relevant outcome provides potential clinical significance to these findings. However, further research is needed to better understand these associations and the potential clinical significance of these findings.
The research has been published online November 8, 2012 in the American Journal of Epidemiology:
Kantor ED, Lampe JW, Vaughan TL, Peters U, Rehm CD, White E. Association Between Use of Specialty Dietary Supplements and C-Reactive Protein Concentrations. Am. J. Epidemiol. (2012) doi: 10.1093/aje/kws186.