Norwich researchers in arthritis breakthrough

Researchers in Norwich have discovered that women who eat lots of garlic, onions and leeks have lower levels of hip osteoarthritis.

The findings by researchers at the University of East Anglia and King's College London not only highlight the possible effects of diet in protecting against osteoarthritis, but also show the potential for using compounds found in garlic to develop treatments for the condition.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in adults, affecting around 8m people in the UK, and women are more likely to develop it than men. Currently there is no effective treatment other than pain relief and, ultimately, joint replacement.

The study, funded by Arthritis Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and Dunhill Medical Trust, looked at more than 1,000 healthy female twins, many of whom had no symptoms of arthritis.

The team looked at the diet patterns of the twins and analysed these alongside x-ray images, which captured the extent of early osteoarthritis in the participants' hips, knees and spine.

They found that in those who consumed a healthy diet with a high intake of fruit and vegetables, particularly alliums such as garlic, there was less evidence of early osteoarthritis in the hip joint.

Professor Ian Clark, of UEA's School of Biological Sciences, said: 'Osteoarthritis is a major health issue and this exciting study shows the potential for diet to influence the course of the disease. With further work to confirm and extend these early findings, this may open up the possibility of using diet or dietary supplements in the future treatment osteoarthritis.'