The research led by the University of East Anglia in England shows that sulforaphane slows down the destruction of cartilage in joints associated with painful and often debilitating osteoarthritis. The study, which also examined human cartilage cells and cow cartilage tissue, was funded by medical research charity Arthritis Research UK, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s (BBSRC) Diet and Health Research Industry Club (DRINC) and The Dunhill Medical Trust.
Sulforaphane is released when eating cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage, but particularly broccoli. Previous research has suggested that sulforaphane has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, but this is the first major study into its effects on joint health. The researchers discovered that sulforaphane blocks the enzymes that cause joint destruction by stopping a key molecule known to cause inflammation.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease affecting the hands, feet, spine, hips and knees in particular. Aging and obesity are the most common contributors to the condition and there is no cure or effective treatment for the disease other than joint replacement or pain relief, which is often inadequate.
Arthritis Research UK’s medical director Prof Alan Silman said: “This is an interesting study with promising results as it suggests that a common vegetable, broccoli, might have health benefits for people with osteoarthritis and even possibly protect people from developing the disease in the first place.
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