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Arthritis Supplement Extended Lifespan in Mice

Update Date: Apr 09, 2014 01:58 PM EDT

A new study examined the effects of taking an arthritis supplement known as glucosamine. Glucosamine, which is widely available, is often used to prevent joint degeneration and has been tied to delaying cancer growth. Furthermore, glucosamine can help reduce the metabolism of nutritive sugars, which are sugars that have been tied to shortening the lifespan of roundworms. Based on that finding, the researchers set out to see if taking glucosamine would extend lifespan. They found that in roundworms and in mice models, adding the supplement did indeed lengthen their lives.

In this study, headed by Michael Ristow from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the team initially gave roundworms glucosamine. They found that the roundworms taking the supplement lived around five percent longer than roundworms that did not get the supplement.

The team then used aging mice that were 100-weeks-old, which would be equivalent to a 65-year-old human. They added glucosamine to some of the mice's regular diets. The researchers found that the mice that received the supplement lived 10 percent longer than the control group of mice. A 10 percent extension for mice is roughly eight additional years for humans. Aside from extending lifespan, glucosamine also improved the elderly mice's glucose metabolism, which protected them from diabetes.

"I have started taking glucosamine myself...[However,] diabetics should perform tight blood glucose control, especially during the first weeks," Ristow stated in the press release. "Unlike with our longer living mice, such an association is no definite proof of the effectiveness of glucosamine in humans. But the chances are good, and since unlike with most other potentially lifespan-extending drugs there are no known relevant side effects of glucosamine supplementation, I would tend to recommend this supplement."

The study, "D-Glucosamine supplementation extends lifespan of nematodes and of ageing mice," was published in Nature Communications.

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