Glucosamine sulfate has been found in several studies to improve osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms and retard the structural degradation of the disease. Because knee osteoarthritis occurs more frequently in women than men after the age of 50, a possible role for hormone deficiency as a risk factor has been suggested, yet the current level of evidence does not recommend hormone replacement as a therapy for the disease.
In the current study, published in the March/April 2004 issue of the journal, Menopause, researchers evaluated a population of 319 postmenopausal women with knee osteoarthritis who had taken part in two three-year randomized, placebo controlled trials. Minimal knee joint space width, a measure of arthritis progression, was measured by radiographic imaging at the beginning of the studies and at three years. Additionally, symptoms such as joint pain severity, stiffness, and limitation of physical function, were evaluated at the beginning and end of the studies.
After three years it was found that 20.6 percent of the women who had received the placebo showed a clinically relevant narrowing of joint space width, compared to only 6.9 percent of those who received glucosamine sulfate. On average, there was a small increase in minimal joint space width among those who received glucosamine. Symptoms improved for those receiving glucosamine and tended to worsen for those in the placebo group, except for stiffness, which was the same between the two groups after three years.
The authors conclude that, “This analysis, focusing on a large cohort of postmenopausal women, demonstrated for the first time that a pharmacological intervention for osteoarthritis has a disease-modifying effect in this particular population, the most frequently affected by knee osteoarthritis.” ( Bruyer O et al, “ Glucosamine sulfate reduces osteoarthritis progression in postmenopausal women with knee osteoarthritis: evidence from two 3-year studies,” Menopause, vol 11 no 2 2004) Source: Life Extension (online at www.lef.org)