Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 1137–1146 | Cite as

Use of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements and risk of colorectal cancer

  • E. D. KantorEmail author
  • J. W. Lampe
  • U. Peters
  • D. D. Shen
  • T. L. Vaughan
  • E. White
Original paper



Glucosamine and chondroitin are non-vitamin, non-mineral supplements which have anti-inflammatory properties. These supplements are typically used for joint pain and osteoarthritis and are commonly taken as either glucosamine alone or glucosamine plus chondroitin. An exploratory analysis conducted within the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) study observed any use of glucosamine and chondroitin to be associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) after 5 years of follow-up.


With two additional years of follow-up, we have studied these associations in greater depth, including associations by frequency/duration of use and by formulation, and have evaluated whether observed associations are modified by factors associated with inflammation. Participants include 75,137 western Washington residents aged 50–76 who completed the mailed VITAL questionnaire between 2000 and 2002. Use of glucosamine and chondroitin was ascertained by questions about supplement use during the 10-year period prior to baseline, and participants were followed for CRC through 2008 (n = 557). Cox regression was used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs).


Persons reporting use of glucosamine + chondroitin on 4+ days/week for 3+ years had a non-statistically significant 45 % lower CRC risk than non-users (HR: 0.55; 95 % CI 0.30–1.01; p-trend: 0.16). This association varied by body mass index (p-interaction: 0.006), with inverse association observed among the overweight/obese (p-trend: 0.02), but not among the underweight/normal weight. Use of glucosamine alone was not significantly associated with CRC risk.


There is great need to identify safe and effective cancer preventive strategies, suggesting that glucosamine and chondroitin may merit further attention as a potential chemopreventive agent.


Chemoprevention Chondroitin Colorectal cancer Epidemiology Glucosamine 



This work was supported by grant K05CA154337 from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Office of Dietary Supplements and grants R01CA142545, R25CA094880, and K05CA124911 from NCI.

Conflict of interest

Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. D. Kantor
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • J. W. Lampe
    • 2
    • 3
  • U. Peters
    • 2
    • 3
  • D. D. Shen
    • 4
    • 5
  • T. L. Vaughan
    • 2
    • 3
  • E. White
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Public Health Sciences DivisionFred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Public Health Sciences DivisionFred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Pharmacy and PharmaceuticsUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  5. 5.Clinical Research DivisionFred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterSeattleUSA

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