Red wine may help osteoarthritis

San Diego: Scientists have discovered that resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in red wine, appears to stop the damage caused to cartilage in osteoarthritis.

During laboratory experiments, tissue was taken from patients undergoing knee replacement surgery and cells were exposed to small doses of resveratrol. The results,presented at a recent American College Of Rheumatology meeting in San Diego, showed the wine chemical protected cells in the knee joint against further damage.

Osteoarthritis develops when cartilage becomes roughened and thin. In a healthy joint, the cartilage acts as a cushion, spreading forces evenly when pressure is applied. Its smooth, slippery surface also allows the bones to move freely. The cartilage stays slippery and smooth thanks to a thick fluid — called synovial fluid — produced by a membrane that surrounds the joint.

But if the cartilage breaks down, usually through wear and tear, the bone underneath starts to thicken and the joint becomes inflamed. In severe cases, the bones grind together, which can be extremely painful.

Treatments range from painkilling creams and pills to steroid injections, designed to curb the swelling inside the joint. But many people end up on a waiting list for replacement joints.

The latest findings from the New York University of Medicine may have found a new treatment based on red wine, although the research is still at a very early stage.

In the new study into resveratrol’s effects on osteoarthritis, tiny samples of cartilage taken from damaged knee joints were combined with the antioxidant compound.

The results showed it slashed production of chemicals that cause inflammation in the joints by between 50 and 90 per cent.

It also stimulated production of key proteins that make up an important part of the connective tissue in the joints.

Red wine also contains polyphenrols which reduce the amount of bad LDL cholesterol in the arteries and increase the levels of protective HDL cholesterol. This means blood is less likely to clot, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

The anti-oxidants in red wine -tannin and resveratrol – also help guard against cancer and slow tumour growth.

Studies have shown that a glass a day could be effective against lung cancer.