Evidence-based policy

As I mentioned a while back, I’ve been doing a bit of running and, unsurprisingly, had knee problems. One response has been to take drinks made of a foul-tasting powder containing glucosamine sulphate and chondritin, which has been widely held out as having promise in relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis. There were some promising case studies, enough to prompt both widespread use, including by me, and a full-scale trial and meta-analysis.

The tests results are now in, and I have mixed feelings in reporting that the both glucosamine sulphate and chondritin appear to be useless. (H/T Neurologica, but link isn’t loading). I was tempted to finish off what was left, on the theory that it might be doing some good anyway, but my commitment to evidence-based policy, along with the fact that the stuff tastes foul, has prevailed.

Out it goes. Now, if anyone can recommend a good broad-spectrum placebo, I’m in the market.

57 thoughts on “Evidence-based policy

  1. @Tom N.
    LOL Tom E – I wonder if I could try Zen eating ? I need to something to lose a bit of weight.
    Apart from that Ron E is on the right track for weight loss. Its not the fat but the carbs that puts it on – its the bread, the rice, the grains. A meat/fruit/ a la natural way to eat is along the same track as the Atkins. Now that fellow is right.
    Whats the pointb of having a low fat diet when its full of sugar – thats how the Woolies and Coles con us into gaining weight and getting addicted.

    As for the Profs knees – its got to be swimming. Knees dont do much and the older you get legs just trail behind.

  2. Ian Milliss : The stroke will almost certainly be brought on by my hundredth patronising counselling session by a spotty faced pharmacy assistant who apparently by law has to treat me like an imbecilic child/criminal with no understanding of my own health needs.The most infuriating thing about these lectures is my suspicion that the legislation mandating them arose from pharmacists’ desire to assert a role in the medical system as something more than shopkeepers. They have now graduated from shopkeeping to low-rent policing.

    Thanks Ian, this is absolutely spot on. I thought I was talking to myself!

  3. John – no time to check all the comments so don’t know if this has been mentioned, but if you go to the Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia website (www.chc.org.au) and scroll down you will find their media release responding to this story.

  4. Amusingly, on Wednesday I think it was, the episode of the Simpsons had a Springfield marathon that had a banner reading “ruin your knees for charity”.

  5. @phil@vvb

    Headline is “Latest research on effects of glucosamine research flawed and limited.”

    The word “flawed” in a critique always raises alarm bells with me. Since no human product is flawless, it can safely be used to attack any piece of work, without having to claim, let alone prove, error or bias. That seems to be the case here – the objections give no reason to think the results are wrong, merely that they are not totally conclusive, and (as all good researchers know) “more research is needed”.

    I particularly like “given the increase in uptake of the supplement within Australia, market suggests consumers are growing ever more confident in its benefits”, which I’ve seen in some other responses. Even the most dogmatic economist believer in “revealed preference” would pause before making such a claim.

  6. Thanks John. I guess they are an industry body rather than economists (whether dogmatic or otherwise) so revealed preference is probably beyond their comfort zone. The study they criticise is a meta-analysis rather than a fresh clinical trial so the CHC is pointing to what they see as error in that analysis not taking account of relevant previous trials. There’s a bit of history, as always.

  7. John,
    My pharmacist wife recommends – fish oil,
    ‘broad spectrum’…… but on the inside!

    the other alternative is to become a member of the ‘lycra brigade’
    I used to get ankle & hip problems but no more!

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