Life Extension Magazine February 2014
As We See It
When Will Doctors Recognize This Leading Cause of Death?
By William Faloon
Today’s cardiologists understand that oxidized cholesterol plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis.1
What may surprise you was the debate that raged last century as to whether one’s blood lipid levels had any relationship to heart attack risk.
In 1951, the first book that connected LDL cholesterol to heart disease was published by a group that included one of our early members, John Gofman, MD, PhD.2 The medical establishment at the time rebelled against this concept and issued an armada of withering criticisms against Dr. Gofman.3
In 1959 and 1965, the FDA proclaimed it illegal to promote foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol as being potentially protective against artery disease.4
Medical schools back then taught doctors that atherosclerosis was an inevitable accompaniment of aging about which nothing could be done. Despite epidemic numbers of middle-aged men succumbing to sudden death heart attack, very little was being done. Vocal opposition to the cholesterol theory of vascular disease continued into the 1980s.3
The purpose of this article is to remind Life Extension® members of a correctable risk factor that significantly increases risk of vascular and other diseases, but is not being taken seriously by mainstream physicians.
Excess glucose damages the delicate endothelium that lines our arteries, setting the stage for coronary and cerebral vascular disease.5 Previous articles published in Life Extension magazine have shown the deadly impact in response to high after-meal glucose levels.6-14
Acarbose is a prescription drug that inhibits the alpha-glucosidase enzyme in the intestines.15 People taking acarbose with meals reduce the amount of ingested carbohydrates that absorb into their bloodstream. Acarbose blunts deadly after-meal glucose surges that occur in response to eating sugars and starches.15-17
Results from seven long-term studies suggest acarbose may reduce heart attack risk by up to 64%.18 The initial data is so impressive that a study of 7,500 cardiac patients titled the Acarbose Cardiovascular Evaluation Trial has been initiated to see if acarbose can prevent heart attacks in people with impaired glucose tolerance and type II diabetes.19 Results from this study are expected to be released by 2016.
What has us excited about this research is that reducing after-meal glucose levels has the potential to prevent far more death and disease than lowering LDL-cholesterol. One reason is that elevated glucose not only promotes vascular disease, but is also associated with an increased risk of dementia, an increased risk of developing cancer, and worse outcomes in patients with cancer.18,20-29
Doctors Are Failing To Warn Their Patients
Aging people today are being told by their physicians that their glucose is “normal” when it’s usually at dangerously high levels. It is analogous to the 1960s-1970s when doctors viewed cholesterol levels of 300 mg/dL as normal.
Doctors in the 1960s-1970s were correct that diets rich in animal fat made high blood cholesterol quite normal, but at a cost of heart attack rates in middle-aged men much greater than today!30,31
It took many decades before mainstream medicine reduced the reference range of cholesterol considered safe to under 200 mg/dL.32
Today we have the same problem with glucose, where doctors tolerate fasting levels up to 110 mg/dL as “normal” in their aging patients.33 To optimally protect against degenerative disease, fasting glucose should be under 86 mg/dL.34
Even more insidious is data showing that blood sugar “spikes” that occur after meals dramatically increase the risk of cardiovascular disease,17,35,36 retinal damage,37 and cancer.38
Unless steps are taken to suppress after-meal sugar surges, the elevated glucose levels triggered by most large meals will incite a dangerous metabolic cascade that results in cell damage and accelerated aging.39
I am grateful to report that improved natural methods have been discovered to suppress deadly after-meal glucose surges.
Epidemic Of High Blood Sugar
Most adults suffer from elevated blood sugar levels.40
One report evaluated 46,000 middle-age individuals and found more than 80% had fasting blood sugar of 85 mg/dL or greater.40 Another study involving over 11,000 middle-age and older individuals showed nearly 85% had fasting blood sugar of 85 mg/dL or greater.41
Since incidence of disease starts to increase when fasting blood sugar rises above 85 mg/dL, this means the majority of aging humans today endure chronic cellular damage associated with elevated blood sugar, along with the accumulation of surplus fat pounds.34
This epidemic of elevated blood sugar will continue to cause age-related disease until the medical profession realizes that their test values for defining “normal” blood sugar are antiquated.
The Glucose-Cancer Connection
In the United States, over 200,000 women are diagnosed with some form of breast cancer each year. Around 41,000 die from it.42 Most breast cancer victims’ lives are spared, but at the cost of surgical mutilation, radiation injury, systemic chemotherapy damage, and acute menopause caused by estrogen-blocking drugs.
With 12% of all American women destined to develop breast cancer,43 taking preventive steps make sense, especially if the same approach also slashes risk of dementia and heart attack…and helps shed fat pounds.
An abundance of published research links high-normal blood glucose levels to increased breast cancer risk.44-46 This fact alone emphasizes the importance of maintaining glucose at safe low-normal ranges.
In response to reports showing that type II diabetics suffer greater incidence and mortality from breast cancer,47-51 Life Extension conducted an analysis of the scientific literature to ascertain if there was a connection between higher “normal” blood glucose and breast cancer risk.
We identified twelve separate studies that examined blood glucose levels in relationship to incidence of breast cancer.47-58 Out of these twelve studies, nine showed an association of higher fasting glucose or other indicators of poor glycemic control with increased cancer risks.47-52,54,56,57
The take-home message in examining this data is to initiate steps to lower glucose (which also reduces insulin) in order to help prevent the most prevalent malignancy striking women today.
While glucose provides fuel for rapidly dividing cancer cells, insulin is a hormonal stimulator for cell growth and differentiation.44,48 The role of elevated glucose and insulin on cancer incidence and progression is being increasingly recognized and was the subject of a report on the CBS news magazine show 60 Minutes.59
A recent study looked at the risk of overall cancer death in relation to blood glucose levels. Those with fasting glucose averaging around100 mg/dL had 49% increased cancer death risk. Those with after-meal glucose above 199 mg/dL had 52% increased cancer death risk. This 19-year study of 2,438 people shows that elevated glucose levels markedly increase one’s risk of dying from cancer.60
High “Normal” Sugar Levels Shrink Brain Volume
In September 2012, Australian researchers published findings showing blood glucose at the high end of normal resulted in significant brain shrinkage.62,63
The shrinkage occurred in regions of the brain (hippocampus and amygdala) involved in memory and other critical functions. Atrophy (shrinkage) in these brain areas worsens memory.62,63
For this study, neuroscientists at Australian National University in Canberra studied 249 people in their early 60s. Each of them had blood sugar levels in the normal range. The study subjects’ brains were scanned at the beginning of the study, and again four years later.
Comparing the before and after images, the researchers found significant brain shrinkage among those whose blood sugar levels were high but still below the World Health Organization’s threshold for pre-diabetes (fasting glucose under 110 mg/dL). The researchers report that these high normal levels may account for a 6% to 10% decrease in the volume of the hippocampus and amygdala.62,63
The lead researcher stated, “ It is this chronic exposure to high glucose levels that is more likely to lead to poorer brain health.” He cautioned that these findings should not be taken “lightly,” as the association between high normal blood sugar and brain shrinkage was “robust.”63
One Way To Protect Arteries Against After-Meal Glucose
Your risk of suffering a cardiovascular death is the greatest in the two-hour period after you eat a meal.64 That’s partly because during that time, you can experience dangerous blood sugar spikes that acutely impair blood flow through vital arteries, which can ultimately lead to a heart attack or stroke.65
Fortunately, you’re about to learn about new natural methods that significantly reduce the surge of glucose into your aging arteries. And while you may not entirely eliminate after-meal sugar surges, Life Extension members should feel assured that steps they long ago initiated confer protection against some of the damage glucose inflicts to their cardiovascular systems.
For example, a landmark study showed that gamma tocopherol limits the artery damaging impact of an after-meal glucose burst. This human study, published in January 2013, showed an expected 30-44% decrease in endothelial function in men after consuming 75 grams of pure glucose. Men who took gamma tocopherol five days in a row before the glucose challenge showed no significant loss of endothelial function.66
This well-designed study revealed how gamma tocopherol protected the arterial endothelium against glucose damage. Foundation members have supplemented with gamma tocopherol since as early as 1996. It’s still critical, however, to take steps before carbohydrate-containing meals to reduce the amount of glucose that enters your bloodstream.
Novel Approaches To Glucose Management
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, the drug acarbose functions by inhibiting the alpha-glucosidase enzyme.15 This limits the amount of glucose available for rapid absorption from dietary starch and sugar.
Initial studies indicate that acarbose may dramatically reduce cardiovascular risk.16 We’ll know definitively how well acarbose works when the results of a large human trial are released around 2016. You don’t have to wait until year 2016 to benefit.
Instead of taking the drug acarbose (which Life Extension has advocated for the past 7 years), consumers now have access to low-cost nutrients that have demonstrated alpha-glucosidase inhibiting properties.67-74
Scientists have identified three natural agents that when combined not only inhibit alpha glucosidase, but function by additional mechanisms to impede glucose absorption, reduce glucose over-production in the liver, and enhance clearance of excess glucose from the bloodstream.72,74-77
A discovery that has us very excited is a nutrient that in laboratory studies increases glucose uptake from the bloodstream into energy producing cells by up to 54%.78 It does this by stimulating an energy transporter called GLUT4 in cells, which is a mechanism by which the drug metformin beneficially lowers glucose.79
Another of these novel nutrient extracts inhibits a transport system in the small intestines that enables glucose to enter the bloodstream.75 The name of this glucose transport protein is sodium-dependent glucose transporter-1 or SGLT1 for short.80 A nutritional SGLT1 inhibitor impedes the ability of glucose to enter the bloodstream, thus providing another shield to guard your body against deadly after-meal sugar spikes.75,80
Few people realize that most of the glucose in our bloodstream after fasting comes from its production in the liver. This process is called gluconeogenesis and is an underlying culprit behind the difficulty in controlling many cases of type II diabetes.81 One of these novel nutrients has been shown to interfere with excess gluconeogenesis , which is a property by which the drug metformin beneficially helps lower insulin and glucose levels.77,82
Another of these nutrients has demonstrated effects that naturally increase the expression of beneficial PPAR-gamma in cells, which enables blood sugar levels to drop without stimulating excess insulin release.83
These nutrients, which function by four different mechanisms, have been combined into one low-cost formula to be taken before meals that contain glucose-spiking starches (bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice) or sugars.
Overwhelming evidence shows excess glucose to be a leading killer of Americans. Doctors are failing to recognize that even high normal blood sugar predisposes us to virtually all killer diseases.35,36,38 It is thus critical that consumers take steps to protect their aging bodies against the deadly impact of glucose overload.
Don’t Wait For A Diabetes Diagnosis
It might not surprise you to learn that some people are diagnosed with type II diabetes in a hospital emergency room. This can occur in response to a heart attack when a hospital blood lab reveals an ER patient’s glucose levels are very high.
What people fail to understand is that glucose-induced arterial damage starts long before sugar levels rise to where diabetes or pre-diabetes is clinically diagnosed.
A study released in 2013 showed that individuals with impaired fasting glucose levels (around 110mg/dL) have similar cardiovascular risk factors as diabetic patients (fasting glucose over 126 mg/dL). This study showed that 36% of patients with impaired fasting glucose had coronary artery disease compared to 42% of those with frank diabetes.86
The study also showed that those with impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes had nearly double the rate of hypertension and high cholesterol when compared to people with normal glucose. The authors of this study stated:
“… it is recommended to identify and treat impaired fasting glucose early since impaired fasting glucose patients’ distribution in coronary artery disease is comparable to diabetes mellitus.”86
Another 2013 study showed that people drinking just one 12-ounce sugar-sweetened soda a day increased their risk of developing type II diabetes by 18%. This study indicates that only a small amount of excess sugar ingestion each day creates havoc in one’s body over the long term.87
Some of you might smugly think that you haven’t touched a sugary soda in years, but the reality is that it’s hard to avoid consuming glucose-spiking foods and drinks. Even whole grains convert to glucose, and healthy fruit juices can saturate your bloodstream with more glucose than a 12-ounce soda.
Unless you zealously follow a diet devoid of starches and sugars, you likely will derive enormous benefit by taking nutrients before meals that impede glucose absorption, reduce liver over-production of glucose (gluconeogenesis), and facilitate efficient removal of glucose from the blood.
We discuss a novel glucose-regulating nutrient blend in the first article of this month’s issue. Price-conscious consumers will be impressed about the broad-spectrum protection against glucose overload they can obtain at a very modest cost.
Most Advanced Formulas At Year’s Lowest Prices
Every time you purchase a Life Extension product, you contribute to biomedical research aimed at extending your healthy life span.
Life Extension funds pioneering scientists seeking to reverse degenerative disease. We do this while simultaneously battling mindless bureaucrats who want to suffocate medical innovation.
During our 25th annual winter Super Sale, all Life Extension formulas are discounted so that members can obtain the newest ingredients and most up-to-date versions at the lowest prices of the year.
Members traditionally take advantage of Super Sale discounts to stock up on cutting–edge formulas designed to circumvent the underlying causes of aging, such as the spiraling increase in glucose that most physicians today accept as normal.
For longer life,
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