Life Extension Magazine September 2006
In The News
At a recent scientific conference in Italy, independent researchers with no financial ties to Life Extension presented important new findings showing that Life Extension’s phytoestrogen formula provides significant neuroprotection.1
The Italian researchers tested Life Extension’s Natural Estrogen supplement to determine whether its phytoestrogen ingredients protect the central nervous system from toxic degeneration. The study focused on specific cells in the central nervous system that fuel neurodegenerative diseases by releasing large amounts of inflammatory cytokines. Phytoestrogens, which are plant-derived compounds found in nutrients like soy and licorice root, help cells of the central nervous system fight dangerous inflammation.
This study was performed on rats so that the supplement’s specific effects could be documented by removing the animals’ ovaries and performing a surgical biopsy of cells from their nervous systems, neither of which would be possible in a human clinical study of this type.
Adult female rats received standard food and orally administered Natural Estrogen. A similar group of animals that received standard food but no phytoestrogen formula served as a control group. The scientists then surgically removed cells from the central nervous systems of the test animals. The cells were exposed to an inflammation-provoking toxin, and levels of inflammatory and protective cytokines were measured over the course of 24 hours.
Exposure to the toxin increased levels of all the measured cytokines. Compared to cells in the control animals, cells of the supplemented rats had significantly lower levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin beta, and interleukin-6, and higher levels of a neuroprotective compound known as transforming growth factor beta.
These exciting findings suggest that the phytoestrogen formulation used by many Life Extension members safely and effectively optimizes the health of the brain and nervous system by decreasing production of deadly inflammatory cytokines.
Editor’s Note: This experiment utilized Life Extension’s Natural Estrogen formula. Life Extension also offers a Natural Estrogen with Pomegranate Extract formula, which supplies the additional benefits of pomegranate extract, broccoli extract, and HMRlignan™.
—Elizabeth Wagner, ND
Elevated blood pressure is common among 14-year-olds in the United States, according to a newly released report. In addition, many teens are overweight and a substantial number have borderline high or high cholesterol.2 High blood pressure, excess body weight, and high cholesterol are all independent risk factors for America’s number-one killer, heart disease.
Scientists collected blood samples from and measured blood pressure, height, and weight in 1,717 eighth-grade students from 12 ethnically diverse schools in Texas, California, and North Carolina. Nearly one quarter of the teens had high blood pressure, and almost half were overweight or at risk of being overweight. Approximately 17% had borderline high total cholesterol and 4% had high total cholesterol.
These findings demonstrate that cardiovascular risk factors are prevalent not only among American adults, but also among teenagers. The study authors recommend that all adolescents (regardless of race or ethnicity) who are at risk for weight problems be screened for elevated blood pressure and blood lipid levels.
—Elizabeth Wagner, ND
Supplementing with folic acid may prevent cancer progression and even contribute to disease regression, according to a new study.3
The study enrolled 43 patients with untreated laryngeal leukoplakia, a pre-cancerous condition of the larynx (an organ containing the vocal cords). The patients received 5 mg of folic acid three times daily for six months. The progression of each patient’s condition was determined at the study’s onset and every 30 days for the length of the investigation.
After six months, 12 patients (28%) experienced complete resolution of their condition, 19 patients (44%) had a 50% or greater reduction in the size of their pre-cancerous lesions, and 12 patients (28%) had no response to supplementation. None of the study participants experienced a progression in their condition.
Folic acid may thus represent a safe, effective therapy for reducing the progression of laryngeal leukoplakia and preventing the development of laryngeal cancer. Scientists believe folic acid promotes health by supporting DNA synthesis and repair.
—Elizabeth Wagner, ND
The Society for Women’s Health Research recently convened a group of medical experts on Capitol Hill to discuss a highly publicized, federally funded study of the value of calcium and vitamin D supplements in preventing bone fractures in women over the age of 50.4
Initial media coverage of the New England Journal of Medicine5 report stated that calcium and vitamin D provide no benefit in preventing bone fractures, causing many to question widely held beliefs about the bone-protective effects of these nutrients. However, health experts say the media interpretation of the study results was misleading. In fact, the study investigators said the recommended daily intake of 1200 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D should remain unchanged.4,5
Phyllis Greenberger, president and CEO of the Society for Women’s Health Research, noted, “The Women’s Health Initiative’s calcium and vitamin D supplemental trial showed that women over the age of 60 had a 21% reduction in risk for hip fracture. Women who took a full dose of calcium, as directed by the study, had a 29% decrease in risk.”4
—Elizabeth Wagner, ND
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may reduce the incidence of neck and back discomfort, decreasing the need for pain-relieving nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), according to a new study.6,7
While previous studies have found that omega-3s may relieve arthritis pain,6 this is the first to examine their effects on persistent neck or back pain. The trial enrolled 125 patients who were using NSAIDs to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. They were given daily supplements of 2400 mg of omega-3 fatty acids for two weeks, followed by 1200 mg of omega-3 fatty acids for approximately two months. After two weeks, the volunteers were asked to stop using NSAIDs, and later they answered a questionnaire concerning their joint and spine pain, side effects, and level of NSAID use.7
Fifty-nine percent of patients had discontinued their NSAID medications, and 60% reported lower overall pain levels since beginning omega-3 supplementation. Eighty percent said they were pleased with their improvement, and 88% said that they would continue to use omega-3 fatty acids.7 The research team noted that as many as two thirds of NSAID users may be able to relieve their pain and inflammation by using omega-3 fatty acids instead of NSAIDs.7
—Elizabeth Wagner, ND
A recent study shows that abundant intake of carotenoids may greatly decrease the risk of developing diabetes in nonsmokers by combating oxidative stress in the body.8 Carotenoids are plant-derived antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, and spinach.
Researchers measured baseline serum levels of carotenoids in both nonsmokers and smokers, and observed their incidence of diabetes and insulin resistance over the next 15 years. Nonsmokers with higher levels of carotenoids in their blood at the study’s onset were statistically less likely to develop diabetes or insulin resistance, which often precedes diabetes. By contrast, smokers with higher carotenoid levels at the study’s onset did not enjoy the same reduction in diabetes risk.
The study results confirm the health benefits associated with a carotenoid-rich diet, and further suggest that smoking may increase the risk of developing diabetes.
A new study shows that daily supplementation with cinnamon extract helps to improve blood sugar levels in people with type II diabetes.9
Controlling blood sugar levels is a challenging but crucial aspect of diabetes management, as poorly managed blood sugar is associated with an increased risk for complications of the disease. When 79 patients with type II diabetes took aqueous cinnamon extract supplements three times daily for four months, their fasting blood sugar (glucose) levels dropped by an impressive 10.3%. Furthermore, people who had higher initial blood glucose levels benefited even more from cinnamon supplementation.
These exciting findings offer hope that cinnamon extract may benefit the millions of Americans who struggle with elevated blood sugar levels.
Women who use oral contraceptives have much lower serum levels of coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E than women who do not use the pill, according to a recent study.10 These fat-soluble antioxidants support energy production and protect against free radical damage that may contribute to disease.
When blood samples from 15 women who were taking oral contraceptives were compared to samples from 40 women who were not, oral contraceptive users had 37% lower CoQ10 levels and 24% lower vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) levels.
This research suggests that supplementing with CoQ10 and vitamin E may help oral contraceptive users prevent deficiencies of crucial health-promoting antioxidants.