New research has revealed that high doses and extended use of the popular dietary supplement glucosamine can kill off pancreatic cells . The study found that glucosamine, which can be bought over the counter and is taken for joint problems, can cause the death of insulin-producing pancreatic cells and is linked to the development of diabetes .
Published in the Journal of Endocrinology, the scientists investigated in-vitro cell lines from mice and rats, exposing the cells to doses of up to 10 times higher than the levels recommended by the manufacturers of glucosamine.
It was shown that glucosamine can trigger a mechanism intended to reduce high blood sugar levels, but that it also killed off half of the cells by affecting SIRT1, a key protein for cell survival. High doses of glucosamine lowers SIRT1 protein levels and brings on cell death.
The results could be influential, especially as people tend to take increasingly higher doses of glucosamine as they get older, in the hope it will help treat arthritis and joint problems. Several studies have now suggested that glucosamine does not work any better than a placebo .
However, research leader, Frederic Picard, from the Universite Laval in Canada, said “We have a long way to go before we can say glucosamine is harmful to humans.”

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