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Cod-liver oil may ease arthritis pain

February 23, 2004|Jane E. Allen | Times Staff Writer

For generations, parents had their children swallow fishy-smelling, vile-tasting cod-liver oil. Rich in vitamins A and D, the oil was supposed to make them healthier. But it's adults with arthritis who especially may benefit.

Researchers at Cardiff University in Wales studied 31 patients who were awaiting knee replacement surgery, giving half of them 1,000 milligrams of high-strength cod-liver oil in pill form for 10 to 12 weeks before their operations. The other patients received similar-looking dummy pills. When the patients underwent knee surgery, doctors took samples of cartilage and joint tissue to see if the cod-liver oil made any difference.

They found that 86% of the osteoarthritis patients who had taken the oil produced less of a cartilage-eroding enzyme or none of the enzyme, compared with 26% of those getting a placebo. The pills also reduced levels of other enzymes that cause pain.

The pill's potential to slow the breakdown of knee cartilage and reduce pain could reduce the number of patients needing knee and hip replacements each year, researchers said. Cod-liver oil also might help sufferers of such sports injuries as cartilage tears avoid osteoarthritis. "It is highly likely that if the Queen Mother had taken cod-liver oil as a young adult, she may have needed her first hip replacement much later in life," professor Bruce Caterson said in a Feb. 13 news conference at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, where he announced the study results.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday February 27, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 78 words Type of Material: Correction
Cod liver oil -- An article in Monday's Health section provided incorrect information about the dosage used in a research study about the use of cod liver oil to help patients with arthritis pain. It said researchers gave patients who had undergone knee replacement surgery 1,000 milligrams of cod liver oil in pills for 10 to 12 weeks before surgery. Actually, the researchers gave patients two 1,000-milligram pills a day, for a total daily dosage of 2,000 milligrams.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday March 01, 2004 Home Edition Health Part F Page 8 Features Desk 2 inches; 74 words Type of Material: Correction
Cod liver oil -- An article in last Monday's Health section provided incorrect information about the dosage given in a study on the use of cod liver oil to help patients with arthritis pain. It said researchers gave patients who had undergone knee replacement surgery 1,000 milligrams of cod liver oil for 10 to 12 weeks before surgery. Actually, the researchers gave patients two 1,000-milligram pills a day, a daily dosage of 2,000 milligrams.

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