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Cod Liver Oil May Delay Osteoarthritis

Prospect could reduce number of joint replacements

FRIDAY, Feb. 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Cod liver oil helps slow the destruction of joint cartilage in people with osteoarthritis, says a British study.

Experts say that could reduce the number of knee and hip replacements done each year and shorten waiting lists for joint replacement surgery.

The study reports that 86 percent of the arthritis patients who took 1,000-milligram capsules of extra-high-strength cod liver oil a day had no levels, or significantly reduced levels, of the enzymes that cause cartilage damage. That compares with 26 percent of the arthritis patients who took a placebo oil capsule for the study.

Those who took the cod liver oil also had a marked reduction in some of the enzymes that cause joint pain, according to the study, by researchers at Cardiff University in Wales.

"This breakthrough is hugely significant because it demonstrates the efficacy of cod liver oil in patients with osteoarthritis taken prior to their joint replacement surgery," researcher Bruce Caterson says in a prepared statement. "The data suggests that cod liver oil had a dual mode of action, potentially slowing down the cartilage degeneration inherent in osteoarthritis and also reducing factors that cause pain and inflammation."

"What these findings suggest is that by taking cod liver oil, people are more likely to delay the onset of osteoarthritis and less likely to require multiple joint replacements later in life," he says.

The study included 31 people in the United Kingdom who were on a national waiting listing for total knee joint replacement surgery. Half of the participants took cod liver oil and half took a placebo for 10 to 12 weeks before their surgery.

During surgery, samples of the patients' cartilage and joint tissue were taken from the knee joint for analysis by the researchers.

More information

To learn more about osteoarthritis, go to the Arthritis Foundation.

SOURCE: Cardiff University, news release, Feb. 12, 2004
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