NMU 295 – Glucosamine Linked to Reduced Cancer Risk in Large UK Biobank Study (2022)
Nutrition/Natural Medicine Update No 295 (July 18, 2023)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Glucosamine Linked to Reduced Cancer Risk in Large UK Biobank Study (2022)
Source: Journal, Frontiers of Nutrition (November 2022)
Back in 2020 I reported on a published paper in the Annals of Rheumatology showing that regular use of glucosamine supplements was associated with a significantly reduced risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, diseases of the intestinal tract, as well as reducing risk of all cause mortality by 15%, compared to non-users of glucosamine supplements. This data was derived from approximately 500,000 individuals who are being followed in the UK Biobank study. In November 2022, an update of the UK Biobank study was published in the Frontiers of Nutrition journal, which focused on glucosamine’s potential protective role against cancer. This data is important because the UK Biobank study is one of the largest population studies in the world whose stated aim is to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of various diseases, as well as promote health across society. The study originally included over 500,000 participants, 38-73 years of age, across the UK, who entered the study between the years 2006 and 2010 and were followed till March 2021. None of the participants had cancer at the begin of the study.
The study showed that after controlling for other cancer risk factors, individuals who routinely took glucosamine supplements showed a significant decrease in overall cancer risk by 5%, a 32% lower risk of kidney cancer mortality, a 16% lower risk of lung cancer mortality, and a 24% lower risk of rectal cancer mortality. As the researchers pointed out, in addition to supporting joint cartilage in the prevention and management of arthritic conditions, glucosamine has also shown important anti-cancer properties in experimental and animal studies. Glucosamine is shown to inhibit the proliferation of many types of human cancer cells, and it also induces programmed cell death (apoptosis) or cell suicide of many types of cancer cells. Glucosamine is also shown to reverse tumour drug-resistance and inhibit the ability of tumours to form new blood vessels to feed themselves (anti-tumorigenesis). It also shows an ability to block the ability of cancer cells to invade neighbouring tissues by inhibiting their ability to produce destructive enzymes known as matrix metalloproteinases. As the researchers point out, several epidemiological studies have indicated that glucosamine is connected to reduced cancer mortality in the US, and the UK. In some studies, a reduction in overall cancer risk of 15% has been documented.
It may interest you to know that in most European countries, glucosamine is only available as prescription drug. But in Australia, the US and Canada glucosamine is available as an over-the counter supplement. About 20% of Australian adults use glucosamine supplements, whereas only about 2% of US adults use glucosamine. In Canada glucosamine is estimated to be used by about 5-7% of the adult population. Most people use glucosamine supplements for arthritic conditions, but the emerging evidence suggests that it may also represent an additional proactive step you can implement to prevent arthritic changes as well as overall cancer risk. My preference is to take a glucosamine supplement that also contains three natural anti-inflammatory agents (Quercetin, Bromelain and MSM), which help to make it a faster-acting product for your joints, and these natural anti-inflammatory agents (Quercetin, Bromelain and MSM) also show their own unique anti-cancer properties in a variety of studies (see references below). My advice remains that most people should consider taking a supplement of this type around age 40, which is the time in life when your begins producing less glucosamine on its own.
I have included the references for all this information in the text below.
Zhou J et al. Association between glucosamine use and cancer mortality: A large prospective cohort study. Front Nutr. 2022. 9
Li Z-H et al. Associations of regular glucosamine use with all-cause and specific mortality: a large prospective cohort study. Ann Rheum Dis. 2020; 79(6): 829-863. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7286049/
MSM Anti-Cancer Properties : https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32878807/
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