Life Extension Magazine December 2002
As We See It
Is Conventional Medicine Finally Catching Up?
Mainstream medical journals are becoming a lot more interesting to read nowadays. These publications used to focus on drugs and medical procedures that provided little practical value for people seeking to protect their health.
Today, when picking up the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) or New England Journal of Medicine, it is sometimes hard to differentiate some of their articles from what you might read in Life Extension magazine.
Take the September 18, 2002 issue of JAMA, for instance.1 One of the papers reported on a ten-year study of 2,419 middle-aged men to determine if vitamin C blood levels affected the risk of stroke. After adjusting for all known risk factors, men with the lowest levels of vitamin C showed a 2.1 times greater risk of stroke compared to men with the highest levels of plasma vitamin C. In men who were hypertensive or overweight, those with the lowest vitamin C levels had a 2.7 times greater stroke risk compared to those in the highest range. The conclusion of the study was that, "Low plasma vitamin C was associated with increased risk of stroke, especially among hypertensive and overweight men."
A few pages later in this same issue of JAMA, a startling new finding showed that garlic prevents arterial occlusion by the same mechanism as HDL-cholesterol.2,3,4 Previous studies demonstrated that garlic protects against arteriosclerosis, but it was not clear how it does so 5-11
One way arterial occlusion occurs is when LDL-cholesterol binds with molecules secreted from the inner lining of the artery, forming tiny plaques that can accumulate and harden. HDL-cholesterol inhibits this process by absorbing excess plaque-forming molecules.12,13
According to the JAMA report, garlic extract works the same way as HDL cholesterol, but more potently. The researchers who conducted the study stated that, in concentrations relative to man, "garlic extract was 2.5 times more effective in inhibiting plaque formation than was HDL-cholesterol."
What the JAMA authors did not discuss was the positive impact that high-HDL confers on longevity. A common trait of people living to age 100 is high levels of HDL-cholesterol in their blood.14 It is not easy, however, to significantly elevate HDL levels. Even with the proper drugs and supplements, it is extremely difficult to raise HDL more than 27%. In some people, it is hard to get HDL levels to nudge upward at all. The fact that garlic extract was shown to be 2.5 times more effective in inhibiting arterial plaque formation than HDL represents a potential breakthrough in the prevention of the most common disease afflicting civilized man, i.e. plugged-up arteries.
The JAMA editors cautioned against supplementing with garlic because the potencies of active constituents vary so greatly between brands. Life Extension does not agree with this position based upon the fact that standardized aged-garlic extract under the Kyolic brand name is readily available to consumers. Previous studies confirm the protective effect of Kyolic garlic extract on the arterial wall.5,8
The best news is that the Kyolic company has finally come out with a high-potency caplet that enables most people to swallow just one a day to obtain 1000 mg of standardized aged garlic extract. For more than a decade, Life Extension had asked the makers of Kyolic for a high-potency supplement so that users would not have to swallow so many capsules. Based on the research reports we have reviewed, it would appear that one 1000 mg Kyolic caplet should be taken for every 1.1 pounds of food eaten a day.
What JAMA has to say about "aging"
In the same issue of JAMA that presented positive findings about vitamin C and garlic, a report discussed the mechanisms by which calorie reduction might extend human life span. The JAMA editors stated that animals eating 50% less food live up to 50% longer. They noted that underfed animals have higher levels of DHEA, lower levels of insulin and lower body temperature.15
JAMA then reported new evidence from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging that men with higher DHEA levels, lower insulin levels and lower body temperatures also tend to live longer than their counterparts with so-called "normal" readings. The JAMA authors noted that these longer-lived men were not eating fewer calories, but nonetheless, had higher DHEA, lower insulin and lower body temperature. A senior National Institute on Aging (NIA) researcher was quoted:
The NIA researcher concluded by stating that someday drugs may "offer the benefits of calorie restriction without having to resort to it."
While we appreciate JAMA reporting these findings, they neglect to mention that DHEA supplements are readily available to boost blood levels of DHEA.16,17 They also did not point out that melatonin lowers body temperature and that avoiding high-glycemic foods lowers insulin.18,19
This new human data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging provides compelling evidence for health conscious people to supplement with low-cost DHEA and melatonin. It also confirms decades of research indicating a benefit to reducing consumption of sugars and other high-glycemic carbohydrates in order to lower excess insulin levels.
Science joining together
An enormous amount of data is being published in mainstream medical journals that corroborate the disease prevention program that Life Extension members have been following since as far back as 1980.
What is missing from these journal articles is practical guidance as to what people should do right now to stave off the degenerative effects of aging. For the past twenty-two years, The Life Extension Foundation has provided this critical information.
For many physicians, the September 18, 2002 issue of JAMA is the first place they will learn about the stroke-reducing effects of vitamin C, the artery-protecting properties of garlic, and the longevity-enhancing benefits of high DHEA, low insulin and lower body temperature.
Due to the limited human life span, health-conscious people can't wait for their physicians to incorporate life-saving findings into clinical medical practice. That's one reason why more people are joining the Life Extension Foundation today than at any previous time.
Life Extension members expect our organization to interpret complex scientific data in order to make practical recommendations to slow the effects of aging today. Our track record shows that we have been consistently ahead of mainstream medicine in designing affordable approaches to prolonging the healthy human life span.
For longer life,
1. JAMA, September 18, 2002, 288(11):1342.
2. Garlic Prevents Plaque, JAMA, September 18, 2002, 285(11): 1342.
3. Siegel, et. al., Effect of Garlic on Arteriosclerosis, presentation at NIH workshop on herbs and heart disease, August 2002.
4. Siegel, G., A Primary Lesion Model for Arteriosclerosis Microplaque Formation, Int. J. Angiol, 2000, 9: 129-134.
5. Efendy et.al., The Effect of the Aged Garlic Extract, 'Kyolic', on the Development of Experimental Atheriosclerosis, Atherosclerosis, 1997, 132: 37-42.
6. Fogarty, M., Garlic's Potential Role in Reducing Heart Disease, BJCP, March/April 1993, 47(2): 64-65.
7. Campbell, JH et. al., Molecular Basis By Which Garlic Suppresses Atherosclerosis, J. of Nutrition, March 2001 Suppl, 131(3S): 1006S-1009S.
8. Borek, Antioxidant Health Effects of Aged Garlic Extract, J. of Nutrition, March 2001 Suppl., 131(3S): 1010S-1015S.
9. Lau, Benj., Suppression of LDL Oxidation by Garlic, J. of Nutrition, March 2001 Suppl., 131(3S): 985S-988S.
10. Slowing et. al., Study of Garlic Extracts and Fractions on Cholesterol-Fed Rats, J. of Nutrition, March 2001 Suppl., 131(3S): 994S-999S.
11. Ho et. al., S-Allyl Cysteine Reduces Oxidant Level in Cells Involved in the Atherogenic Process, Phytomedicine, 2001, 8(1): 39-46.
12. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 15th ed., 2001, The Pathogenesis of Atherosclerosis, 1377-1382.
13. Stein, et. al., Internal Medicine, 1988, 1889.