Many of us dream of a simple pill that will boost our lifespan as effectively as arduous regular exercise. Now, research suggests that wish has become reality.
Taking a glucosamine and chondroitin combination supplement might reduce overall mortality to a degree similar to the benefit of exercising regularly, say disease researchers at West Virginia University.
Two researchers — Dana King and Jun Xiang — discovered that taking glucosamine/chondroitin every day for a year or longer is associated with a 39% drop in death from any cause. Their findings were published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.
Taking glucosamine/chondroitin daily also was linked to a 65% reduction in the likelihood of death from cardiovascular-related causes like stroke, heart disease and coronary artery disease.
In reaching their conclusion, the researchers looked at data from more than 16,000 adults who completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2010. Survey participants were at least 40 years old.
The researchers controlled for various factors, including age, sex, activity level and whether participants smoke.
In a university announcement, King says the findings indicate that taking a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement has a “pretty significant” impact on health.
However, a daily glucosamine/chondroitin supplement should not be used as a replacement for exercise, King says:
“Does this mean that if you get off work at five o’clock one day, you should just skip the gym, take a glucosamine pill and go home instead? That’s not what we suggest. Keep exercising, but the thought that taking a pill would also be beneficial is intriguing.”
King also notes that the research was part of a study, not a clinical trial. That means it does not offer definitive proof that taking glucosamine/chondroitin every day lengthens life.
Instead, he calls the results encouraging. He notes that he takes glucosamine/chondroitin daily and adds that because the supplement is available over the counter, it is readily available to most people.
Of course, don’t run out to buy the supplement without first talking to your health care provider about whether it is right for you.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are both natural compounds found in cartilage. They are sometimes taken as a supplement for arthritis or joint pain, although the West Virginia University study notes that large clinical trials have found their effect on such pain was not significantly better than that of a placebo.
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