Life Extension Magazine

Life Extension Magazine January 2011

In The News

Metabolic Syndrome Sharply Increases Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

Metabolic Syndrome Sharply Increases Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

Metabolic syndrome is caused by a deadly cluster of at least three of the following cardiovascular risk factors: obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high levels of triglycerides, and low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. With nearly a quarter of the North American population affected, some doctors believe we are reaching epidemic proportions of people at risk.*

“We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic that is contributing to an increase in the number of people with the metabolic syndrome in North America,” noted senior researcher Dr. Mark Eisenberg of McGill University, in Montreal. “Thus, an increasingly large number of people are at a high cardiovascular risk.”

In Dr. Eisenberg’s report, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the researchers found that the metabolic syndrome increased the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke by two-fold or more. Patients with the syndrome also had a 50% increased chance of dying from any cause.

—J. Finkel

Reference

*http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE68K2D320100921. Accessed October 27, 2010.

Higher Antioxidant Levels Predict Reduced Mortality Risk Over 13 Years

A report published in the British Journal of Nutrition revealed a protective effect for a number of antioxidant nutrients against all-cause and disease-specific mortality in older individuals over a 13-year average period.*

Researchers evaluated data from 1,054 participants in the British National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Four day dietary records were analyzed for the intake of energy and nutrients. The participants were followed through September, 2008.

Increased plasma vitamin C, alpha-carotene, selenium, and zinc were significantly associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality, as was the dietary intake of vitamin C, carotenoids, zinc, copper, and total energy. “Future studies should attempt to determine, first, which nutrients are the most frequent predictors of all-cause and specific-cause mortality in different populations, and second, whether these predictions can imply causal relationships, such that dietary or other interventions might promote disease-free longevity,” the authors write.

Editor’s note: These patterns remained fundamentally similar when deaths from vascular, cancer, and respiratory diseases were separately considered, however, increased dietary vitamins C and E were found to confer a significant protective effect against cancer, and dietary vitamin E protected against respiratory disease in males (while carotenoid intake was protective in women).

—D. Dye

Reference

* Br J Nutr. 2010 Sep 1.

Branched-chain Amino Acids Extend Life Span in Animal Model

Branched-chain Amino Acids Extend Life Span in Animal Model

The journal Cell Metabolism reports that branched-chain amino acids, which include leucine, isoleucine, and valine, extended the average life span of mice when administered in their drinking water.* Normal mice given the amino acids beginning at nine months of age had a median life span of 869 days, while untreated animals had a life span of 774 days.

Further experimentation determined that supplemented animals experience an increase in cardiac and skeletal muscle mitochondria, which are the energy producing organelles of cells. There was also greater activity of a longevity-associated gene known as SIRT1, and less oxidative damage, which are effects similar to those conferred by calorie restriction in some studies. Animals given branched-chain amino acids additionally showed increased exercise endurance and motor coordination.

Editor’s note: Lead researcher Dr. Enzo Nisoli observed that amino acid supplements do not have to be digested as do the proteins which contain them, enabling them to enter the bloodstream immediately, remarking that, “They come with no energy cost.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Cell Metab. 2010 Oct 6;12(4):362-72.

Multivitamin Use Associated with Lower Heart Attack Risk in Women

Multivitamin Use Associated with Lower Heart Attack Risk in Women

An article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports an association between multivitamin use and a reduced risk of myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack) in older women.*

The current study included 2,262 women with a history of cardiovascular disease and 31,671 women with no history of the disease who participated in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. Over the 10.2 year average follow-up period, 269 heart attacks occurred among women who had cardiovascular disease, and 932 occurred in those with no history. Among women who had no history of the disease, those who reported using a multi-nutrient supplement had a 27% lower adjusted risk of heart attack than those who were not supplement users. Using a multivitamin along with other supplements was associated with a 30% lower risk, and use for at least five years was linked to a 41% lower risk of myocardial infarction compared to non-users.

Editor’s note: Concerning the contradiction of the current study’s findings with other research which failed to uncover a benefit, the authors explain that ingredients and dosage of the components of multi-nutrient supplements vary, that some trials were conducted in subjects with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, and that the majority of trials had short follow-up periods.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1251-6.

Correct Vitamin D Deficiency Before Surgery, Orthopedist Recommends

The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery reports that nearly half of orthopedic surgery patients are deficient in vitamin D, a condition that impairs bone healing, muscle function, and surgery recovery.*

Joseph Lane, MD and colleagues reviewed the charts of 723 men and women scheduled for orthopedic surgery from January, 2007 to March, 2008 and found that 43% of the patients had insufficient preoperative vitamin D levels and 40% had deficient levels.

Sixty percent of trauma service patients had insufficient levels and 52% were deficient. A high percentage of vitamin D insufficiency was also observed in sports medicine and arthroplasty (hip and knee replacement) services.

“The take home message is that low vitamin D has an implication in terms of muscle and fracture healing, it occurs in about 50% of people coming in for orthopedic surgery, and it is eminently correctable,” Dr. Lane stated.

Editor’s note: Dr. Lane suggested that, “Patients who are planning to undergo any orthopedic procedure can request a screening (specifically, a blood test called the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test) or ask to be placed on a medically supervised vitamin D supplement regimen prior to surgery.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* J Bone Joint Surg. 2010 Oct 6;92(13):2300-4.

Night Light Could Equal Weight Gain

Night Light Could Equal Weight Gain

A report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that some of the increase in obesity observed over the past several decades could be due to increased exposure to light at night.*

Dr. Randy Nelson and colleagues evaluated the effects of nighttime light exposure in mice. A greater increase in body mass was observed among mice exposed to constant light and those exposed to a cycle of daylight and dim light compared to animals that received standard light-dark exposure.

In another experiment, feeding during darkness prevented excess fat gain in animals exposed to the daylight/dim light cycle. Due to their nocturnal nature, mice normally consume most of their food at night when they are active, in contrast with humans, who normally eat during the day. Dr. Nelson suggests that in humans, late-night eating could be a risk factor for obesity.

Editor’s note: Exposure to light at night disrupts melatonin signaling, which could lead to changes in activity, food intake, and metabolism.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2010 Oct 11.