Life Extension Magazine May 2006
As We See It
Hidden Cardiac Risk Factors
By William Faloon
How Fibrinogen Facilitates Cancer
The doctors who conducted this huge study published by the American Medical Association were surprised to see increased rates of cancer in those with higher fibrinogen levels. However, in light of what Life Extension has published since 1997, this was not a revelation.
Fibrinogen is the precursor to fibrin in the body. Researchers believe that cancer cells use fibrin to coat themselves in order to hinder their recognition by the immune system. In addition, fibrin relays a signal to cancer cells to initiate angiogenesis, which is the growth of new blood vessels into the tumor. Fibrin-associated angiogenesis sets the stage for tumor growth and metastasis.
Cancer patients often demonstrate a hyper-coagulation state, with elevated fibrinogen playing a significant role in the process. The administration of anti-coagulant drugs like low-molecular-weight heparin has been shown to improve survival in those stricken with cancer.36,37 Anti-coagulant drugs break down fibrin in the body. Those with higher fibrinogen levels produce more fibrin. Cancer cells use this fibrin to protect themselves against the body’s immune system and facilitate growth. Based on these understandings, taking steps to lower fibrinogen not only reduces heart attack and stroke risk, but also may reduce one’s odds of developing cancer.
With the confirmatory findings about the lethal dangers of excess fibrinogen, it is more important than ever to have one’s blood checked, to initiate fibrinogen-reducing strategies, and to have follow-up fibrinogen blood tests to assess how your fibrinogen-lowering intervention is working!
Glucose: The Sweet, Silent Killer
Scientists have known for decades that diabetics have far greater incidences of heart attack and stroke. Those with uncontrolled diabetes exhibit chronic and dangerously high levels of blood glucose.
In a startling study released by Johns Hopkins University scientists, even healthy people with higher normal blood glucose levels were shown to have more cardiac events.87
The researchers used a blood test (hemoglobin A1C) that evaluates glucose control over the previous three to four months. This test measures the percentage of sugar reactions (glycation) that have occurred in red blood cells. The “standard reference range” states that hemoglobin A1C up to 5.7% is “normal.” However, the Johns Hopkins researchers found that hemoglobin A1C levels above 4.5% (even in non-diabetics) predicted greater heart attack risk.
Those with higher-than-desired blood glucose levels display no symptoms. In too many instances, however, excess glucose silently contributes to atherosclerosis and ensuing heart disease. This is why annual blood testing and proper evaluation of test results are so crucial.
Deadly Consequences of Flawed Reference Ranges
A blood chemistry test can reveal your glucose level. Regrettably, the medical establishment has misjudged the safe upper limit for fasting glucose. The result is that doctors are failing to warn patients when their glucose levels are too high.
Initially, back in 1979, doctors diagnosed diabetes when fasting glucose levels reached 140 mg/dL on two separate occasions. In 1997, the guidelines were changed, and fasting glucose levels of 126 mg/dL or greater became the new standard for diagnosing diabetes, with concern about impaired glucose metabolism being raised when blood sugar levels were between 110 and 125 mg/dL. The slow-to-respond conventional medical establishment finally advised in 2003 that doctors should be concerned about impaired glucose metabolism when blood sugar levels reach 100 mg/dL.
Conventional medicine’s flawed understanding of glucose metabolism has caused tens of millions of needless deaths. As you will soon read, even today’s accepted normal glucose ranges can predispose aging adults to startlingly high mortality rates.
Life Extension has always advised members that optimal glucose levels are below 100 mg/dL.
We based our position on published studies showing increased longevity for those in lower glucose ranges.88-91 We also had the advantage of inside information about calorie-restriction experiments that indicated ideal glucose levels to be around 74 mg/dL.
Keep Glucose in Lower Reference Ranges
Several years ago, Life Extension alerted members that those with higher “normal” blood glucose readings were at increased risk of premature death.92
Our warning was based on a study showing greater cardiovascular disease incidence as blood glucose levels rise past 85 mg/dL.93 Back in those days, doctors did not worry about glucose until it reached far higher levels. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we advised members to try to keep their glucose levels at 85 mg/dL or lower.
Newly published studies have documented the fact that higher glucose readings elevate vascular disease risk.94-99 In heart attack victims admitted to the hospital, those with the highest glucose levels have been shown to be much more likely to suffer severe cardiac outcomes (and death).95,97,98 One study looked at emergency room cardiac patients in 2002 and found that 65% were either diabetic or had impaired glucose control.96 The cumulative findings from these studies mandate that aging humans take aggressive steps to maintain optimal blood glucose levels.
An annual blood chemistry test is the best way to make sure your glucose level is in an optimal range. The hemoglobin A1C test is an even better indicator of your glucose levels, as it measures that amount of glycation that glucose has inflicted on your red blood cells during the previous three to four months.
Best Value in Comprehensive Blood Testing
Since the early 1980s, Life Extension has advised its members to have annual blood tests to identify disease risk factors that can be reversed before serious illness develops. The impact of these blood tests in preventing future disease and premature death is incalculable.
The problem members previously encountered was that their doctors refused to prescribe blood tests for important health markers such as prostate-specific antigen (PSA), homocysteine, and C-reactive protein. The price of these tests was also prohibitive. Ten years ago, Life Extension resolved this problem by offering blood tests at discounted prices directly to its members.
Once a year, we reduce our everyday low prices. Until May 31, 2006, we are discounting all blood tests so that members can obtain comprehensive blood evaluations at a fraction of the price charged by commercial laboratories.
To provide members with an even greater assessment of their disease risks, we are virtually giving away the fibrinogen and hemoglobin A1C tests when members order the popular Male or Female Life Extension Panels.
In this month’s issue, we describe the most important blood tests you should have at least once a year. We also introduce a new test panel that separates different fractions of LDL, HDL, and other lipoproteins involved in the atherosclerosis process. This new test panel is especially critical to those at high risk for vascular disease.
Whether you use your own doctor, a commercial laboratory, or our blood testing service, I encourage every member to have his or her blood tested at least once a year.
For longer life,
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