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May 2013

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Studied For Colon Cancer Risk

Glucosamine and chondroitin may be an effective treatment in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), according to a study.

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine, which is the lower part of the digestive system. Rectal cancer occurs on the last eight to ten inches of the colon. They are often referred to together as colorectal cancers, and are the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

Glucosamine is a natural compound that is found in healthy cartilage. It is supported by strong scientific evidence for its effectiveness in treating osteoarthritis of the knee. Chondroitin was first extracted and purified in the 1960s. It is currently made from natural sources such as shark or beef cartilage, or by synthetic means. There is much support for the use of chondroitin together with glucosamine for improving symptoms and possibly reversing the process of osteoarthritis.

In the current study, scientists evaluated the potential use of glucosamine and chondroitin in reducing the risk of CRC. They analyzed information from 75,137 Washington residents who had participated in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study between 2000 and 2002. All participants completed a questionnaire detailing their supplement use and were followed for CRC through 2008.

The results suggested that people who used a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin at least four days a week for over three years had a 45 percent lower risk of CRC, compared to non-users. This link appeared to vary depending on body mass index. There was a lack of significant effect of glucosamine alone on CRC risk.

The researchers concluded that glucosamine and chondroitin combined may merit further study as a possible preventative for CRC. More information is needed before firm conclusions can be made.

Light therapy, strontium, and vitamin A have all been studied for the treatment of colon cancer and related conditions. These integrative therapies are backed by strong scientific evidence for this purpose. There is good scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of greater celandine, meditation, psychotherapy, and selenium in treating colon cancer.

For more information about CRC, please visit Natural Standard's Medical Conditions Database.


  1. Kantor ED, Lampe JW, Peters U, et al. Use of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements and risk of colorectal cancer. Cancer Causes Control. 2013 Mar 26. [Epub ahead of print] 
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

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