A recent study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, found that an avocado-soy pill decreased the percentage of people whose osteoarthritis progressed after three years by 10%.
While this may seem somewhat promising, Dr. Richard Olson, a rheumatologist for Rockford Orthopedic Associates, pointed to the low percentage of patients who experienced a benefit and that this line of research has been the focus of French researchers for the past decade with little to no proof of success.
Olson said, “There’s a difference between European and US rheumatologists in terms of complimentary and alternative medicine. At least this [study] has data. Most products are just marketing ploys.”
Many studies of arthritis conditions take place over short periods of time when the placebo affect is still effective, but after about three months, those effects dissipate.
While Dr. Olson does not believe avocado-soy pills will benefit osteoarthritis patients, he also noted the importance of continuing to study every possibility.
“We have to remember that the basic biology of cartilage and adjacent bone is very complex. We’re still discovering cells and molecules that we didn’t know about ten years ago.”
Take away: Look carefully at the studies being done. Did the study take place over three months or three years? “Somebody will always be looking at [different options],” but even if the data is sliced to make it look appealing and successful, it may still not really be a viable treatment option.
On the positive side, no one is giving up the possibility. “Someday, somebody is going to hit the jackpot; it’s such a common disease, and we’re absolutely thankful that people are still looking for a cure, “ Olson said.