Life Extension Magazine

Life Extension Magazine December 2008

In The News

Vitamin D Holds Promise For Multiple Sclerosis Prevention

Vitamin D Holds Promise For Multiple Sclerosis Prevention

In an article recently published in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, researchers from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey propose a protective role for vitamin D against the development of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS).*

Sylvia Christakos, PhD, and colleagues describe several findings that point to the vitamin’s protective benefit. They observe that the incidence of MS declines as vitamin D from sunlight or diet increases. Areas of the world in which fish intake is high also have a low incidence of MS. Fish and fish oils are among the few food sources of the vitamin.

In view of the strong reduction in the risk of MS that has been associated with having higher serum levels of vitamin D3 before the age of 20, the authors suggest that vitamin D supplements may provide a protective benefit if administered to adolescents and young adults.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Raghuwanshi A, Joshi SS, Christakos S. Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. J Cell Biochem. 2008 Jul 24.

Berries Protect Against Carcinogens

Berries Protect Against Carcinogens

The journal Cancer Research published the findings of researchers at Ohio State University that consuming black raspberries can prevent some of the genetic changes that result from carcinogen exposure, thereby reducing the risk of cancer.*

Gary D. Stoner, PhD, and his associates fed rats a normal diet or a diet that contained 5% freeze-dried black raspberry powder for three weeks. During the third week, half of the animals were injected with a carcinogen, and genetic changes were measured.

Among rats that received the carcinogen, 2,261 genes showed a change in activity, yet in animals that received berry powder, 462 of these genes demonstrated activity that was near normal. The majority of these genes were involved in processes related to cancer.

“This suggests to us that a mixture of preventative agents, which berries provide, may more effectively prevent cancer than a single agent that targets only one or a few genes,” Dr. Stoner stated.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Stoner GD, Dombkowski AA, Reen RK, et al. Carcinogen-altered genes in rat esophagus positively modulated to normal levels of expression by both black raspberries and phenylethyl isothiocyanate. Cancer Res. 2008 Aug 1;68(15):6460-7.

Disability Rates May Not Increase With Very Old Age

Disability Rates May Not Increase With Very Old Age

A report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirms that increasing rates of disability may not be inevitable among the very old.*

Kaare Christensen from the Danish Aging Research Center at the University of Southern Denmark and colleagues studied 2,262 Danish men and women born in 1905. The subjects were surveyed in 1998 and in 2000, 2003, and 2005 to evaluate physical functioning, cognitive function, and depression.

At the beginning of the study, 39% of the subjects were classified as independent. This percentage declined by an additional 

“modest” 6% by 2005 among the 166 surviving participants. The authors write that with improved medical treatment and education, as well as a reduction in the number of those who smoke among those entering the oldest-old population, a decrease in disability among this age group can be expected.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Christensen K, McGue M, Petersen I, Jeune B, Vaupel JW. Exceptional longevity does not result in exceptional levels of disability. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008 Aug 9;105(36):13274-9.

Boswellia Extract Improves Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

An herbal extract, 5-Loxin®, significantly decreases pain and improves mobility in osteoarthritis of the knee, according to a study from India.* Derived from the herb Boswellia serrata (Indian frankincense), 5-Loxin® inhibits the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme to combat inflammation and pain.

In this study, 75 patients aged 40 to 80 years with mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly assigned to take 100 mg/day or 250 mg/day 5-Loxin®, or matching placebo, for 90 days. By the study’s end, patients taking 5-Loxin® at either dose reported significant improvements in pain and physical function compared with placebo recipients, and these changes were already present at day seven of treatment with the 250-mg dose. Synovial fluid from both supplemented groups showed significant reductions in levels of matrix metalloproteinase-3 (an enzyme that degrades cartilage). Safety was comparable among groups.

5-Loxin® may represent a safe and effective anti-inflammatory treatment for osteoarthritis with fewer adverse effects than standard therapy.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Sengupta K, Alluri KV, Satish AR, et al. A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled study of the efficacy and safety of 5-Loxin(R) for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Arthritis Res Ther. 2008 Jul 30;10(4):R85.

Curcumin Shows Promise Against Cold Sore Virus

Curcumin Shows Promise Against Cold Sore Virus

Curcumin, a component of the curry spice turmeric, significantly inhibits the growth of herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) in cell culture.* HSV-1 is the virus responsible for cold sores.

Cells were cultured and then either pretreated with curcumin or left untreated, followed by administration of HSV-1. Curcumin significantly reduced the growth of HSV-1 in the treated cells, as determined by the number of plaques, size of plaques, and viral counts, compared with untreated cells. The results indicate that curcumin aids cells in resisting HSV-1 infection and slows HSV-1 replication (growth). The antiviral effect is due to suppression of HSV-1 gene expression.

Future research is necessary to determine how curcumin works in vivo (i.e., in humans). The authors note that this “is key to developing curcumin as an alternative drug for HSV-1 treatment... our results can be considered as an early step in elucidating the molecular basis of the antiviral activities of curcumin.”

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Kutluay SB, Doroghazi J, Roemer ME, Triezenberg SJ. Curcumin inhibits herpes simplex virus immediate-early gene expression by a mechanism independent of p300/CBP histone acetyltransferase activity. Virology. 2008 Apr 10;373(2):239-47.

Sleep Loss May Encourage Inflammatory Diseases

Losing sleep for just a portion of one night is sufficient to trigger production of the potent inflammatory mediator, nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB), according to a new report.1 Previous research has linked inadequate sleep with a greater risk of inflammatory diseases, including diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.1,2

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, monitored blood levels of NF-kB, a transcription factor that serves a crucial role in the promotion of the inflammatory cascade, among 14 healthy men and women after sleep. Subjects’ blood levels of NF-kB were repeatedly monitored, following a full night’s sleep, recovery sleep, and partial sleep deprivation (a night interrupted by remaining awake from 11 pm to 3 am).1

“In the morning after a night of sleep loss, mononuclear cell nuclear factor-kappa B activation was significantly greater compared with morning levels following uninterrupted baseline or recovery sleep,” wrote the researchers.1

These findings help elucidate how sleep disturbances may play a role in inflammatory disorders.

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

1.Irwin MR, Wang M, Ribeiro D, et al. Sleep loss activates cellular inflammatory signaling. Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Sep 15;64(6):538-40.
2.Davis S, Mirick DK. Circadian disruption, shift work and the risk of cancer: a summary of the evidence and studies in Seattle. Cancer Causes Control. 2006 May;17(4):539-45.

Green Tea Extract Improves Blood Glucose Control

Supplementation with green tea powder for two months significantly reduces levels of hemoglobin A1c, an indicator of long-term glucose control, in Japanese patients with borderline diabetes.*

Participants were 60 male and female volunteers with elevated blood glucose who were divided into two groups. The early-intervention group drank a supplement of green tea extract (containing 544 mg polyphenols) each day for two months, followed by two months of observation without supplement, and the later-intervention group followed the opposite schedule.

During the study, blood levels of hemoglobin A1c declined significantly in the early-intervention group from baseline (6.2%) to two months (5.9%) and four months (5.8%); levels in the later-intervention group were 6.1%, 6.1%, and 5.9%, respectively. Healthy hemoglobin A1c levels usually range from 4% to 5.9%. Diastolic blood pressure also modestly decreased with supplementation.

These findings suggest that modulating long-term blood glucose control may represent yet another health benefit of green tea extracts.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Fukino Y, Ikeda A, Maruyama K, Aoki N, Okubo T, Iso H. Randomized controlled trial for an effect of green tea-extract powder supplementation on glucose abnormalities. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 Aug;62(8):953-60.

Flaxseed Extract Reduces Male Urinary Symptoms

Flaxseed Extract Reduces Male Urinary Symptoms

A recent clinical trial shows that a flaxseed lignan extract significantly improves lower urinary tract symptoms among men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).* The extract contained 33% secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG), the principal ingredient.

In this study, 87 men with an enlarged prostate were randomly assigned to take 300 or 600 mg/day SDG, or placebo (no supplement), for four months. Both supplement groups had significant improvements in the International Prostate Symptom Score, the Quality of Life score, and the number of patients with a change in overall urinary symptoms from “moderate/severe” to “mild” compared with baseline; changes were not significant for the placebo group. Improvements in urinary symptoms were correlated with plasma concentrations of total lignans, SDG, and other active ingredients.

The authors note that the benefits of flaxseed extract appear comparable to the therapeutic effects of common treatments for BPH.

­—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Zhang W, Wang X, Liu Y, et al. Effects of dietary flaxseed lignan extract on symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Med Food. 2008 Jun;11(2):207-14.