In my last issue, I introduced you to a major breakthrough in arthritis research: The discovery that fat cells are a direct cause of joint pain, thanks to their ability to produce the “arthritis hormone.”
But I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. Today, I’ll show you how it all works…and why it’s so important to find out if you’re a victim of the “arthritis hormone.”
This hormone is called leptin. Doctors, researchers and scientists all over the world were shocked when the news broke that this hormone could be so closely tied to joint health.
Here’s a little background. When leptin was discovered in 1994, researchers thought it could be the magic bullet to weight loss. In fact the name is borrowed from the Greek word leptos, which means “thin.”
Early research showed that leptin regulates how much you eat by sending your brain the “Whoa, there!” signal that makes you push back from the dinner table. It also helps regulate how much energy you store as fat. That had scientists buzzing—until they discovered that simply increasing your leptin doesn’t make you lose weight. In fact, people who have too much leptin become resistant to it…and then they start to pack on the pounds.
So what did all this research have to do with arthritis?
Not much—until 2003, when a team at a small French university discovered that having too much leptin doesn’t just ruin your weight. It also attacks your joints.
From their research, we know that people with higher leptin levels have a higher body mass index and more severe symptoms of arthritis.
Since then, reports have been steadily piling up to show that leptin puts you at risk for metabolic syndrome—the dangerous condition characterized by:
- High blood sugar
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain around the waistline
I can tell you that my patients who are overweight and have metabolic syndrome…also have more arthritis pain. In fact, they turn up hand-in-hand so often that I started considering joint pain to be like a fifth symptom of metabolic syndrome.
Now we have proof that leptin is the culprit, and a brand-new study published this year gives me the concrete evidence that explains why.
In a large analysis of 11 clinical trials, leptin was found to cause:
- More inflammation
- Faster cartilage thinning, transforming it from thick and springy to weak and brittle
- Increased wear and tear on your joint “cushions,” including synovial fluid and hyaluronic acid
- More severe arthritis symptoms
- Higher risk of cardiovascular disease
- Higher risk of some cancers
It’s mind-boggling how many areas of health could be sabotaged by out-of-control leptin. And there’s some evidence that these effects could be even worse for women.
But if we focus only on joint health today…these findings explain why so many people with stubborn arthritis pain get ZERO relief from traditional joint supplements. These grocery-store formulas focus solely on cartilage health or symptom relief. They can’t do a thing to stop leptin from attacking your joints.
In fact, a study published in the journal Nutrition revealed that glucosamine—one of the most popular joint supplements on the market—has no effect whatsoever on leptin.
But here’s the scariest part. Arthritis isn’t just a disease of cartilage. It involves your bone, synovial fluid, and the muscles and tissue surrounding the joints. So when the signs, symptoms and pain of the disease become severe, you have so much at stake.
And getting your leptin levels in balance is one of the most effective steps you can take to feel better and keep your joints healthy for years to come.
When you cut leptin down to normal levels, your joints get healthier in 5 ways, by:
- Erasing pain
- Controlling 11 different factors that cause inflammation
- Improving your joints’ cushioning
- Making it easier to bend and move, especially for your knees
- Plus, it reduces your risk of metabolic syndrome, a major risk factor for arthritis pain
One thing to remember: The goal is not to get rid of all your leptin. You still need it to tell your brain when you’re full, and help your body know when it needs to store fat or burn it. It’s excess leptin that causes problems. And with your cardiovascular health, your weight, your blood sugar and your joints at stake…it’s more important than ever to keep your leptin levels from soaring out of control.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but one of the most reliable ways to reduce leptin—and stop it from damaging your joints—is to lose weight. When you shrink fat cells, you’re cutting off leptin right at the source.
I know it can be hard. But you’ll feel a huge difference almost right away. In fact, losing 20 percent of your body weight can cut your pain symptoms in half. That’s great motivation to keep going once you start!
And that’s why I’ve been working on something to help you figure out if leptin is truly the culprit.
It’s as easy as answering 3 simple questions, which I’ll ask you in tomorrow’s Reality Health Check.
“Evidence for a Key Role of Leptin in Osteoarthritis.” Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2003; 48(11): 3118-29.
“Do synovial leptin levels correlate with pain in end stage arthritis?” International Orthopaedics (SICOT) 2013; 37:2071–79.
“Significance of Increased Leptin Expression in Osteoarthritis Patients.” PLoS ONE 10(4): e0123224.
“Effect of Oral Glucosamine Sulfate on Serum Leptin Levels in Human Subjects.” Nutrition. 2004; 20:321–322