Thursday, December 16, 2010

Glucosamine Linked to Diabetes!

A new study has linked the popular over-the-counter dietary supplement glucosamine with a risk of developing diabetes.(Journal of Endocrinology, Oct. 28 2010)

High doses and prolonged use of glucosamine cause the death of insulin-producing pancreatic cells, a team from Quebec's Universite Laval's faculty of pharmacy has discovered. Malfunctioning insulin-producing cells are linked to the development of diabetes.

The study led by Frederic Picard looked at in-vitro cell lines from mice and rats. Picard's team exposed the cells to doses of glucosamine up to 10 times higher than the 1,500 milligrams a day manufacturers recommend.

The experiment showed that the supplement triggers a mechanism intended to lower high blood sugar levels, but it also destroyed about 50% of the cells by affecting SIRT1, a protein crucial to cell survival.

A high dose of glucosamine lowers SIRT1 protein levels and induces cell death, Picard said. "It killed our cell lines," he said.

The study may have major implications because many older people take increasingly higher doses of glucosamine in the mistaken belief it will help treat arthritis and joint problems. Picard cautioned against jumping to conclusions. "We have a long way to go before we can say glucosamine is harmful to humans," Picard said. But he warned against taking high doses. "I see no gain and there may be some side effects."
Sales of the supplement have spiked in recent years, more than doubling since 2008.

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are used separately or in combination to reduce joint pain from osteoarthritis, often related to a breakdown of cartilage.

Several studies, including a recent National Institutes of Health probe conducted at 16 rheumatology research centers across the United States, suggest the supplement did not perform better than a placebo.

Glucosamine is a waste of effort and money, said rheumatologist Arthur Bookman of Toronto Western Hospital. Despite proof that the supplement showed no benefit, some people, including his patients, insist on using this and other disproved remedies, said Bookman, who is also with the Canadian Arthritis Society.

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