UK researchers: Broccoli might slow progression of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is among the most common health issues facing the senior population. According to The Arthritis Society, approximately 10 percent of Canadian adults have OA, and the condition can make it difficult for seniors to stay active and perform tasks around the house. The health care community has long been looking for an effective treatment that may be able to slow the progression of OA, and a new study from the UK might have found a simple way to do just that. Researchers believe that sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli, may help delay the damage to cartilage that is a hallmark of OA.

Inflammation holds the key
The study, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, was performed by scientists at the University of East Anglia and focused primarily on mouse subjects. Researchers fed one group of mice a diet rich in sulforaphane and discovered that it experienced significantly less joint damage compared to the group that was given a normal diet. Additionally, researchers performed tests on human cartilage cells and found that when they were exposed to sulforaphane, the genes responsible for cartilage death were turned off. Experts believe that sulforaphane is so beneficial because it blocks a molecule that is known to cause inflammation – often a root cause of arthritis.

“The results from this study are very promising. We have shown that this works in the three laboratory models we have tried, in cartilage cells, tissue and mice,” said researcher Ian Clark, professor of musculoskeletal biology at the school. “We now want to show this works in humans. It would be very powerful if we could.”

Broccoli is not alone
While the results suggest broccoli could be a potential breakthrough for arthritis patients, eating the healthy vegetable is not the only way for seniors to alleviate some of their OA symptoms. Exercise is one of the best methods for treating the condition. While it may seem difficult to get moving with pain and discomfort, experts say it’s the best way to treat the condition, WebMD notes. Specifically, activities such as water aerobics and swimming offer a host of benefits including improved joint mobility, muscle strength and better physical conditioning. Not only that, but it helps keep seniors at a healthy weight, which will alleviate some of the wear and tear placed on aging joints.