The shocking reason why knee arthritis has doubled since the mid-20th century

Plus, how to get the relief you need—without dangerous drugs or surgery

Osteoarthritis of the knee is becoming more and more common. In fact, a new study shows diagnoses have more than doubled since 1940.

It’s assumed that this increase is occurring because people are living longer, and so their joints are subject to more wear and tear. And Americans’ ballooning body mass indexes are also thought to put more stress on their knees.

But there has never been any real evidence for these assumptions. And a new study actually demonstrates how faulty this reasoning truly is.

6,000 years’ worth of arthritis evidence

The researchers examined skeletal remains from 1,581 people over age 50 who died between 1905 and 1940. They also looked at the remains of 819 people who died between 1976 and 2015. All of these individuals had participated in cadaver donation programs for medical research, so there was medical data available as well. 1

The study also included 176 archaeological specimens from Native Americans who died between 300 and 6,000 years ago.

After controlling for longevity, BMI, and other variables, the researchers found that the rate of knee arthritis was 6 percent in the pre-industrial group, and 8 percent in the prehistoric people. But it was a whopping 16 percent in the postindustrial, modern sample.

This disproves the standard medical explanation that physical labor, which clearly was greater in the pre-Industrial Revolution days, can be associated with more osteoarthritis.

Today, the researchers say almost 20 percent of Americans over age 45 have some level of knee osteoarthritis. But if factors like age, weight, and physical labor aren’t causing this arthritis epidemic, what is?

Being trained in medicine, epidemiology, pathology, and archaeology/anthropology (not to mention common sense), it has long seemed obvious to me that there are two main factors at work when it comes to osteoarthritis of the knees and other joints:

1) Excessive, abnormal patterns of exercise on unnatural surfaces.

2) Changing diets and increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

Why too many workouts will bring you to your knees

It’s certainly no secret that there have been changes in diet, as well as declining nutritional content of foods, in the modern era.

And occupations have also become more sedentary.

Both of these alterations in daily habits can cause bones and joints to become less strong or “fit”—which can lead to arthritis.

But, as we can see from the new study, taking diet and exercise to the extreme (as is often the case in modern society) isn’t helping our joints—or our overall health.

In fact, it’s making things worse.

For decades, we’ve been repeatedly told that more and more exercise is better and better for your health.

But this is a classic medical myth.

Evidence actually shows that excessive exercise is associated over the long term with joint damage (not to mention the short-term risk of injuries), as well as damage to the heart muscle, nervous system, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract.

And running on hard, artificial surfaces creates unnatural stress on knee joints—particularly when carried out to the limits of human tolerance.

So how much exercise is really enough?

In the October issue of Insiders’ Cures (“Why being a ‘weekend warrior’ may actually be optimal for your health”), I reported on a study showing that working out at moderate intensity just 2.5 hours a week is as beneficial to your health and longevity as exercising 7.5 hours a week.

Stand up for improved knee health 

Based on that evidence and this new study, it sounds like the old myths about causes of arthritis don’t have a leg to stand on. And that means traditional treatments (like harmful drugs and useless glucosamine and chondroitin supplements) also won’t be effective.

In my online learning protocol, Arthritis Relief and Reversal Protocol, I tell you what really works. You can learn more about this protocol or enroll today by clicking here or calling 1-866-747-9421 and asking for order code GOV3TC00.



The science of skeletal remains

In the study I just mentioned, the researchers assessed osteoarthritis in skeletons by visually examining the physical presence and degree of eburnation, or polish, from direct bone-on-bone contact.

Direct visual examination of skeletal remains opens new vistas when it comes to bone diseases, but is virtually ignored by medical researchers.  Anthropological and archaeological studies on skeletal remains reveal many findings that aren’t detected clinically or via x-rays or other imaging.

I learned this personally during the early 1980s, when a colleague and I conducted studies on skeletons in the Hamann-Todd collection at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Through our examination of ribs in skeletons of people who died during the 1800s and early 1900s, we found lesions associated with primary pulmonary tuberculosis that had never been observed before.

The curator of the Cleveland museum collections at the time was Donald Johansen, who had just become famous for finding partial skeletal remains from a 4 million-year-old hominid called Lucy, which were kept in a sealed vault.

Graduate students lined up to get a chance to work on Lucy with Dr. Johansen, while ignoring the work I was doing with my colleague as guest researchers. (One graduate student even brought in her pet raccoon, which caused havoc one day while we were trying to photograph our own findings.)

There was so much fuss about these fragmented remains of Lucy (which required a lot of imagination to resemble a human skeleton) that the other rich treasures in the museum’s abundant research collections went ignored.

There’s a rich wealth of information in remnants from the past—many of them hold the keys to treatment in modern day medicine… you just have to know where to look.



1“Knee osteoarthritis has doubled in prevalence since the mid-20th century.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Aug 29;114(35):9332-9336.