Glucosamine Promotes Longevity

Icone02In life, sometimes a new use is found for an existing product and this new use turns out to be way better than the original use for which the product was designed. Examples of this are:

  • Propecia: now used to promote hair growth in balding men but originally sold to treat prostate enlargement
  • Viagra: now used to treat male erectile dysfunction but originally sold to treat hypertension and angina
  • Play-Doh: now sold as molding clay for children but originally marketed as a wallpaper cleaner
  • WD-40: now used as a mechanical lubricant but originally invented to protect nuclear missiles

Last week I read an article in Medical News Today that made me think glucosamine could be next on the list. Glucosamine has been used for years to treat joint pain and stiffness but Ristow and colleagues have explored a different use and published their findings in the April issue of Nature Communications. They fed glucosamine to roundworms and found that they lived about 5% longer than the control group. Encouraged by the results they then fed glucosamine to ageing mice. The mice were 100 weeks of age which is equal to around 65 years in human age. Amazingly, the lifespan of the mice on glucosamine was increased by 10% compared to the controls on a normal diet. This is equivalent to 8 extra years of human lifespan! The researchers found that glucosamine offered protection from diabetes by improving glucose metabolism.

How could this relate to humans? Well, a study by White and colleagues published a couple of years ago in European Journal of Epidemiology may answer that question. Over 77,000 people aged 50-76 years were followed for mortality for about 5 years. Glucosamine was linked to a significant decreased risk of death from cancer and a large risk reduction for death from respiratory diseases. Glucosamine and chondroitin use was associated with a decreased risk of total mortality.

There are no known side effects of glucosamine supplementation.¬†If I wasn’t already taking glucosamine, I’d be heading straight for the shops!

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