Glucosamine/Chondroitin Doesn’t Stop Cartilage Loss

Drat, I was wrong on this one

Ever since I took up running in 2003, I’ve been popping a dose of glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate nearly every day with the hope that it would help mitigate cartilage loss in my knees from the pounding inherent in the sport. And, knock-on wood, I haven’t suffered anything other than the approximately $60-70 a year I’ve spent on the supplement. But today I found out that that I’ve been wasting money all this time.

Two years into an ongoing study of the supplement’s effectiveness, researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine noted that there was “no clinically important reduction in joint space width loss” in patients taking glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate. But before the doctors would declare the supplement worthless, they revealed that their data wasn’t making a lot of sense to them. The doctors couldn’t explain why those patients receiving placebos had a “smaller loss of cartilage than they should have,” according to a Reuters wire report on the study.

Confusion aside, I think this spells the end of another over-hyped supplement (Hey, one whose hype I bought.) I’ll take that placebo effect, though, even if it means shelling out $60 a year for a bottle of the stuff. It’s become a nice little touchstone-type of routine for me: Pop the pill, keep on runnin’. If I learned anything about fitness, it’s the power of the routine. Stick to a routine, and you stay on track.