Glucosamine Linked to Reduced Cancer Risk in Large UK Biobank Study (2022)
Source: Journal, Frontiers of Nutrition (November 2022)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (July 18, 2023)
Glucosamine and Reduced Cancer Risk
- A significantly reduced risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular, respiratory, and intestinal tract diseases.
- A 15% reduction in all-cause mortality compared to non-users of glucosamine supplements.
The data was derived from approximately 500,000 individuals being followed in the UK Biobank study.
UK Biobank Study Update on Glucosamine and Cancer
- In November 2022, the UK Biobank study was updated and published in the Frontiers of Nutrition journal, with a specific focus on glucosamine’s potential protective role against cancer.
- The UK Biobank study is one of the largest population studies in the world, aiming to improve disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as promote health across society.
- The original study included over 500,000 participants from the UK, aged 38 to 73, who were followed from 2006 to 2010 until March 2021. None of the participants had cancer at the study’s beginning.
- After controlling for other cancer risk factors, the study showed that individuals who routinely took glucosamine supplements exhibited significant benefits:
- 5% decrease in overall cancer risk
- 32% lower risk of kidney cancer mortality
- 16% lower risk of lung cancer mortality
- 24% lower risk of rectal cancer mortality
Glucosamine and Anti-Cancer Properties
Glucosamine has shown important anti-cancer properties in experimental and animal studies, including:
- Inhibition of proliferation in various types of human cancer cells
- Inducing programmed cell death (apoptosis) in many cancer cell types
- Reversal of tumor drug-resistance
- Inhibition of tumor blood vessel formation (anti-tumorigenesis)
- Blocking cancer cells’ ability to invade neighboring tissues by inhibiting destructive enzymes (matrix metalloproteinases)
Several epidemiological studies in the US and the UK have indicated that glucosamine is linked to reduced cancer mortality, with some studies reporting a 15% reduction in overall cancer risk.
Glucosamine Availability and Usage
- Glucosamine is available as a prescription drug in most European countries but as an over-the-counter supplement in Australia, the US, and Canada.
- Usage rates vary, with about 20% of Australian adults using glucosamine supplements, approximately 2% of US adults, and an estimated 5-7% of the adult population in Canada.
Complementary Natural Agents
Some glucosamine supplements contain three natural anti-inflammatory agents (Quercetin, Bromelain, and MSM), which have their own unique anti-cancer properties in various studies.
- Based on the evidence, it may be beneficial for individuals to consider taking a glucosamine supplement with natural anti-inflammatory agents around the age of 40, as this is the time when the body naturally produces less glucosamine.
- Zhou J et al. Association between glucosamine use and cancer mortality: A large prospective cohort study. Front Nutr. 2022. 9 Link
- Li Z-H et al. Associations of regular glucosamine use with all-cause and specific mortality: a large prospective cohort study. Ann Rheum Dis. 2020; 79(6): 829-863. Link
- Bromelain Anti-cancer Properties: Link
- Quercetin Anti-Cancer Properties: Link
- MSM Anti-Cancer Properties: Link
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.