The truth about arthritis

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The osteoarthritis picture is changing. It’s effecting younger people and the number of suffers is increasing. Yet one thing remains the same – we’re still treating it with painkillers because we still haven’t found a cure. But perhaps we’ve been looking for that cure in all the wrong places.

A research team at The Prince Charles Hospital is looking for answers in samples collected during joint surgery, in the hope of uncovering the truth behind this age-old problem so we can develop new ways to treat it.

“Establishing the link between diet and arthritis would be a major medical breakthrough. Lives would be transformed. The cure may be as simple as treating osteoarthritis with existing cholesterol drugs and a low-fat diet.”
Professor Ross Crawford

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The problem: We don’t know what causes osteoarthritis

We do know, however, that osteoarthritis is increasing at the same rate as obesity and high cholesterol. In fact, as high cholesterol rates have risen, the number of joint replacements have increased too. So rather than being a result of wear and tear as we thought, osteoarthritis may, in truth, be a result of our diet.

The problem: We don’t know what causes osteoarthritis

Leading orthopedic surgeon, Professor Ross Crawford, heads an exceptional team of researchers who are looking at the way different types of cholesterol and lipids affect joint and bone cells.

“When we do hip and knee replacements, you can actually see the cholesterol in the bone,” said Professor Crawford.

“We believe that cholesterol plays a similar role in arthritis as it does in heart disease, but we need to prove it. So, in this vital early stage of our research, we’re taking blood samples from people who don’t have osteoarthritis. Then we record what happens when these healthy cells are exposed to different types of cholesterol.”

Understanding what causes the damage is the key to finding a cure for a condition that causes chronic pain and disability to the people who suffer from it. This research has the potential to improve the lives of over 300 million people* all over the world.

*Stat is from Global Burden of Disease study 2010

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