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04-27-2007, 01:24 PM
Chondroitin, a dietary supplement used to treat osteoarthritis, is ineffective, a new meta-analysis -- a study of published research -- finds (Review, p. 580).

The authors selected 20 trials comparing chondroitin to placebo or no treatment and found that chondroitin had little effect on knee or hip pain caused by arthritis.

Although few adverse side effects were reported, the authors conclude that chondroitin use should "be discouraged."

In an accompanying editorial, a writer notes that the market in the United States for chondroitin and glucosamine (usually sold together in the U.S.) tops $1 billion/year (Editorial, p. 611), and writes that despite these findings, "chondroitin sulfate should not be considered dangerous. If patients say that they benefit from chondroitin, I see no harm in encouraging them to continue taking it as long as they perceive a benefit."

(The article and editorial are published online, http://www.annals.org/. They will be available in the May 1, 2007, print edition of Annals of Internal Medicine.)

Note: Annals of Internal Medicine is published by the American College of Physicians.

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Tip sheet Annals of Internal Medicine, April 17, 2007

Contact: Susan Anderson
American College of Physicians