We’ve all heard that high cholesterol is bad for your heart, but could it be bad for your joints too?
In a world-first study, a research team at The Prince Charles Hospital have found a link between high cholesterol levels and joint damage. Up until this point we’ve only known at risk factors for the condition (such as age, obesity, injury and overuse); we didn’t have any insight into what was physically happening in the joints to cause them to break down.
However, Professor Ross Crawford, Professor Yin Xiao, Dr Indira Prasadam and their research team believe that metabolic factors in a person could contribute to this condition. They’ve tested the effects of cholesterol on mice with osteoarthritis, and found that cholesterol actually caused the cartilage to break down.
They showed that the cholesterol placed oxidative stress on cartilage cells – basically, it was suffocating these cells and causing them to die. Over time, as these cartilage cells can’t repair themselves, it resulted in joint damage.
They also believe they might have found a preventative for osteoarthritis – antioxidants!
By introducing a special type of antioxidant drug into the mix, they were able to see a slowing down in the destruction of cartilage in mice with high cholesterol levels. And not only have their trials shown that antioxidants stop the breakdown of cartilage, but they also hope that future research could uncover that antioxidants can help to repair the damaged joints.
This is exciting news for anyone with osteoarthritis or at high risk of developing it. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that causes extreme pain to the people who have it. Daily tasks such as getting out of bed, walking up stairs or even typing on a computer can be excruciating for someone with this condition. Now, to have a potential solution and treatment that extends beyond pain management is a huge breakthrough in the field!
The team have already begun working alongside dieticians to try and educate the public about healthy eating and how to keep cholesterol levels at a manageable level that won’t damage joints.
You can read about the other fantastic work happening with The Common Good here.