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28-04-2020 | Rheumatology | News | Article

Regular glucosamine supplementation may lower mortality risk

Author: Hannah Kitt

medwireNews: Findings from a large prospective cohort study show that regular use of a glucosamine supplement is associated with a reduced risk for all-cause and cause-specific mortality among the general population.

“Although the effectiveness of glucosamine supplementation for osteoarthritis and joint pain remains controversial, several human, animal and laboratory studies have suggested that glucosamine may have anti-inflammatory properties, which could decrease the risk for multiple diseases,” say Chen Mao (Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China) and study co-authors in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

The findings, based on data from 495,077 participants of the UK Biobank study, 94,346 (19.1%) of whom regularly took glucosamine during a median follow-up of 8.9 years, “are consistent with findings from several previous studies, which indicated an inverse association between glucosamine use and mortality,” emphasize the researchers.

Multivariate analysis adjusting for various factors including those pertaining to sociodemographics, health, and lifestyle, revealed that the all-cause mortality risk was 15% lower among those who regularly took glucosamine, at 3217 deaths (3.4%) compared with 16,665 deaths (4.2%) among those who did not.

The findings for all-cause mortality were echoed in cause-specific mortality rates. People taking regular glucosamine were 6% less likely to die from cancer than those not regularly taking the supplement, as well as 18% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, 27% less likely to die from respiratory disease, and 26% less likely to die from digestive disease.

Overall, the researchers note that regular glucosamine use was more likely among people who were older, female, more physically active, and had more comorbidities – namely, arthritis, cancer, or hypertension. But Mao et al add that none of these factors significantly modified the risk for all-cause or cause-specific mortality in subgroup analyses.

Smoking, however, did influence the protective effect of glucosamine against all-cause mortality, being significantly stronger in people who were current smokers than those who were not.

Mao and colleagues speculate that since current smokers “are at a state of higher inflammatory stress at baseline, the anti-inflammatory actions of glucosamine may offer stronger benefit.”

In addition to its beneficial anti-inflammatory effects, the researchers propose that glucosamine may trigger responses that mimic a low carbohydrate diet – already known to be associated with a reduced mortality risk – such as reducing glycolysis and increasing amino acid catabolism.

Acknowledging that other mechanisms may play a role, however, the researchers say that “[f]urther studies are needed to explore the diverse pharmacological roles of glucosamine on different health outcomes.”

Nevertheless, they conclude: “These findings indicate that regular glucosamine use may provide a benefit against mortality among the general population.”

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. © 2020 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature Group

Ann Rheum Dis 2020; doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2020-217176

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