Researchers from the University of East Anglia led by Ian Clark, professor of musculoskeletal biology, presented new findings in the Aug. 27, 2013, issue of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism that indicates a single compound in broccoli may prevent osteoarthritis.
The researchers examined the anti-inflammatory properties of broccoli in humans and in cows. Broccoli is known to produce the release of significantly higher levels of the compound sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has previously been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
The researchers found that sulforaphane prevents the joint destruction that accompanies osteoarthritis by blocking a key molecule involved in the initiation of the enzyme that causes the inflammation specific to osteoarthritis. The testing was successful in cartilage cells, tissue, and mice.
The aim of the research is to develop a high sulforaphane content broccoli or a supplement based on high sulforaphane content broccoli that can prevent the initiation of osteoarthritis. At present, osteoarthritis cannot be detected through chemical or physiological testing. The only way physicians can determine that a person has osteoarthritis is when symptoms appear.
The researchers express the desire to circumvent the prohibition against giving healthy people a drug to prevent osteoarthritis by creating a food or a food supplement that prevents osteoarthritis. The only alternatives at present are narcotics, steroids, and surgery. The researchers hope to avoid the expense and dangers of each of the present treatments with a simple change in diet.
Human trials are presently in progress to determine if the same effects seen in cows and mice are exhibited in people who have osteoarthritis prior to surgery.