Norwich scientists seek volunteers to slurp broccoli soup to test if it can combat arthritis

University of East Anglia researchers are looking at whether broccoli could play a role in helping p

University of East Anglia researchers are looking at whether broccoli could play a role in helping people with osteoarthritis. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2007

Volunteers who are happy to slurp broccoli soup are wanted for a Norfolk trial, to see whether eating the vegetable can help slow down the effects of arthritis.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital are recruiting for the first human trial into the benefits of a compound called sulfarophane, having already studied its effects on mice.

Sulforaphane is released when eating vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage and, particularly, broccoli.

The research team is looking for people over 50 with knee osteoarthritis, who are in pain, and who like broccoli.

Researchers will compare the effects of eating broccoli soup with another soup, which doesn't contain broccoli, but looks and tastes the same.

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Patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis will be randomly assigned to either the broccoli or the other soup and will eat this with a meal on four days per week for three months.

The team will measure pain and physical function at the start of the trial, at six weeks and at 12 weeks and assess any changes.

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Prof Ian Clark, from the UEA's School of Biological Sciences, said: "Our previous laboratory study has shown that sulforaphane slows down the destruction of cartilage in joints associated with painful and often debilitating osteoarthritis.

"We found that mice that were fed a diet rich in the compound had significantly less cartilage damage and osteoarthritis than those that were not.

"Now we want to see whether eating broccoli would be as beneficial for humans."

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease affecting the hands, feet, spine, hips and knees in particular. More than 8.5 million people in the UK have the condition and the cost to the NHS tops £5bn each year.

Aging and obesity are the most common contributors to the condition and there is no cure other than pain relief or joint replacement.

The Broccoli In Osteoarthritis trial is funded by Versus Arthritis and Action Arthritis, and will be carried out in collaboration with the University of Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine.

Anyone interested in taking part should email or call 01603 591471.

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