Scientists from Cardiff University have revealed new clinical data showing that Cod Liver Oil really is effective in slowing the destruction of joint cartilage in patients with osteoarthritis.
The groundbreaking clinical study was led by Professor Bruce Caterson and Professor John Harwood of the School of Biosciences, and Professor Colin Dent, Orthopaedic Consultant, University of Wales College of Medicine.
For the first time, the clinical study provides unique human evidence (in vivo) of the effectiveness of Cod Liver Oil in the management of osteoarthritis.
The trial shows that 86% of pre-operative patients with arthritis, who took Cod Liver Oil capsules daily, had absent or significantly reduced levels of the enzymes that cause cartilage damage compared to 26% of those given a placebo oil capsule. In addition, the result showed a marked reduction in some of the enzymes that cause joint pain, in those patients taking the Cod Liver Oil.
According to surgeons, the findings could hold the key to reducing the number of knee and hip replacements carried out in the UK each year thereby shortening NHS waiting lists for joint replacement surgery. The estimated direct cost of arthritis to the health and social services is approx. £5.5 billion annually.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, Professor Caterson said:
"This breakthrough is hugely significant because it demonstrates the efficacy of a dietary intake of Cod Liver Oil in patients with osteoarthritis taken prior to their joint replacement surgery. The data suggests that Cod Liver Oil has a dual mode of action, potentially slowing down the cartilage degeneration inherent in osteoarthritis and also reducing factors that cause pain and inflammation.
"What these findings suggest is that by taking Cod Liver Oil, people are more likely to delay the onset of osteoarthritis and less likely to require multiple joint replacements later in life.
"To put this into perspective, it is highly likely that if the Queen Mother had taken Cod Liver Oil as a young adult, she may have needed her first hip replacement much later on in life."
For the Cardiff University study, 31 patients on an NHS waiting list were recruited 10-12 weeks prior to total knee joint replacement surgery. Half of the patients were given two daily capsules containing 1000mg Extra High Strength Cod Liver Oil and half given placebo capsules. At the time of surgery, samples of cartilage and joint tissue were taken from the knee joint and subjected to analysis.
Cartilage is the ‘gristle’ that cushions bones and prevents them from grinding against each other. Loss of cartilage leads to osteoarthritis, the painful and disabling condition, which caused more than two million people in the UK to visit their GP in the past year and the major reason for joint replacement surgery.
Impact of the Study
Professor Colin Dent commented: "Patients resort to joint replacement surgery when the symptoms and pain of their arthritis becomes unbearable. Cod Liver Oil can counteract these symptoms and if you can switch off the cartilage destruction and pain then surgery may not be necessary. We're very excited by this latest trial."
Professor Caterson added: "I didn't think I’d be part of such a big breakthrough in my lifetime. Through fate and luck we've found a way of slowing down the progression of osteoarthritis. And it turns out to be a very affordable and safe treatment, a treatment that will impact on many people's lives.
"Our results also suggest that people who have suffered sporting injuries, that predispose them to the early onset of osteoarthritis (e.g. meniscal tears or cruciate ligament rupture) should consider taking Cod Liver Oil to slow the progression of their disease."
These finding are particularly welcome for sufferers of osteoarthritis, many of whom are concerned about the adverse side effects, commonly associated with prescription drugs (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs).
Fergus Logan, chief executive of the Arthritis Research Campaign, which funded the pilot study said: "These findings provide further proof that taking Cod Liver Oil or eating lots of oily fish slows down cartilage destruction in osteoarthritis, which is great news for those people who have the condition or worry about developing it, and who want to do something positive to help themselves."
Professor Colin Dent concludes, "This is where science and old wives’ tales coincide. Our findings are consistent with advice that taking Cod Liver Oil in early adulthood could prevent the onset of osteoarthritis and would reduce the harmful symptoms associated with the disease."
Source: Cardiff University.