Broccoli lovers wanted for osteoarthritis trial

Researchers at the universities of Leeds and East Anglia are launching a trial to see whether eating broccoli could help with osteoarthritis.

They will investigate a compound called sulforaphane, which is released when eating cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage, and particularly broccoli.

Having previously shown the benefits in murine models, the team now hope to recruit people from Leeds and Norfolk to take part in the first human trial.

They are looking for people over 50 with knee osteoarthritis, who are in pain, and who like broccoli.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease affecting the hands, feet, spine, hips and knees in particular. More than 8.5 million people in the UK have the condition and the cost to the NHS tops £5 billion each year.

Ageing and obesity are the most common contributors to the condition and there is no cure other than pain relief or joint replacement.

Dr Sarah Kingsbury, from the University of Leeds’ School of Medicine, said: “Not all health interventions require surgery or taking pills. We hope that this trial might reveal a simple dietary choice that can help people with osteoarthritis.”

The Broccoli In Osteoarthritis (BRIO) trial, funded by Versus Arthritis and Action Arthitis, will investigate whether a broccoli-rich diet improves pain and physical function in osteoarthritis.

Researchers will compare the effects of eating broccoli soup with a soup which doesn’t contain broccoli but looks and tastes the same.

Patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis will be randomly assigned to either the broccoli or the control soup and will eat this with a meal on four days per week for three months. The team will measure pain and physical function at the start of the trial, at six weeks and at 12 weeks and assess any changes.

Professor Alex MacGregor, from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, said: "Osteoarthritis is a major cause of disability. It is a huge health burden but a huge financial burden too, which will get worse in an increasingly ageing and obese population such as ours.

"Although surgery is very successful, it is not really an answer. Once you have osteoarthritis, being able to slow or stop its progress is really important. Prevention would be preferable and changes to lifestyle, like diet, may be the only way to do that.”

Dr Caroline Aylott, head of Research Awards and Translation at Versus Arthritis, said: “Although there are no diets or dietary supplements that will cure arthritis, some research suggests that symptoms can improve by changing your diet. Broccoli is something that is easily available and although more research needs to be done, shows great promise for people with osteoarthritis.”

Anyone interested in taking part should email or call 0113 392 4965. For more information please visit

Further information

For interview requests please contact Simon Moore, Press Officer at the University of Leeds, on 0113 34 38059 or