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LE Magazine May 2000

MEDICAL UPDATES
Studies from throughout the world that can help you live longer

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May 2000
Table Of Contents

  1. Vitamins decrease blood homocysteine levels
  2. BHA and BHT as antioxidant food additives
  3. Invasion of human coronary artery cells by oral bacteria
  4. Vitamin E treatment of CNS disorders in the aged
  5. Curcumin enhances wound healing
  6. Vitamin B-12 deficiency in the elderly
  7. Vitamin B-12 and folic acid deficiency in elderly
  8. Cryosurgery for prostate cancer
  9. Vitamin D: Non-skeletal actions and effects on growth
  10. Curcumin inhibits development of colon cancer
  11. Bacterial infections may cause atherosclerosis
  12. Exercise prevents premature death and CHD
  13. Arginine, taurine and homocysteine in CD
  14. Combination therapy for malignant melanoma
  15. Beta-carotene decreases risk of prostate cancer
  16. Interaction of St John's Wort with digoxin
  17. Curcumin inhibits genetic cause of cancer
  18. CoQ10 decreases DNA damage in human lymphocytes
  19. Melanoma vaccine
  20. Human longevity at the cost of reproductive success
  21. Antioxidant supplementation reverses age-related neuronal changes
  22. Safflower oil vs. perilla oil on lipid metabolism
  23. Osteoporosis in men - prevention and management
  24. GH deficiency: Signs, symptoms, and diagnosis
  25. Curcumin and cell membrane dynamics

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  1. Vitamins decrease blood homocysteine levels

    Full source: AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NUTRITION, 1999, Vol 70, Iss 5, pp 881-887

    Elevated blood homocysteine has been shown a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CD). A relatively small increase is associated with a large percentage increase in relative risk of cardiovascular disease in adults. The risk is even greater for people with established risk factors. In a study of 491 adults with high risk factors such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, and type 2 diabetes, the administration of folic acid, vitamin B-12 and B6 in an amount equal to 100% of the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) caused blood homocysteine concentrations to fall from 10.8 to 9.3 mu mol/Liter between weeks 0 and 10. The results of the study indicated that the increased intake of folic acid, vitamin B-12 and B6 resulted in a decrease of blood homocysteine concentrations. (Editor's note: Homocysteine levels should ideally be under 7).

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  2. BHA and BHT as antioxidant food additives

    Full source: FOOD AND CHEMICAL TOXICOLOGY, 1999, Vol 37, Iss 9-10, pp 1027-1038

    BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are widely used antioxidant food additives. There had been some concern for potential toxicities by their continued use. However, a medical review concluded that BHA and BHT do not pose a cancer hazard. To the contrary, BHA and BHT may actually be anticarcinogenic at the current levels of food additive use. .

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  3. Invasion of human coronary artery cells by oral bacteria

    Full source: INFECTION AND IMMUNITY, 1999, Vol 67, Iss 11, pp 5792-5798

    There appears to be an association between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease. It was hypothesized that oral bacteria invade coronary artery cells and may start and/or speed up the inflammatory response present in atherosclerosis. A study demonstrated that specific species and strains of bacteria (i.e. Eikenella corrodens, Porphyromonas gingivalis, and Prevotella intermedia) do invade coronary artery cells at a significant level. Many intracellular P. gingivalis organisms were seen to be present. This is the first report showing that oral microorganisms invade human cell cultures of the blood vessel network.

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  4. Vitamin E treatment of CNS disorders in the aged

    Full source: AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NUTRITION, 1999, Vol 70, Iss 5, pp 793-801

    Vitamin E seems to play a specific role in the central nervous system (CNS). It has been used in pharmacological doses in the treatment of disorders such as Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, and tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movements of the facial muscles). One investigation showed that the use of 2000 IU of vitamin E (alpha-tocopheryl acetate) is beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer disease. In other studies, 400 IU vitamin E/day or more were found beneficial in the treatment of tardive dyskinesia. The effectiveness of vitamin E in controlling cardiovascular disease has been shown. The results from 2 large clinical trials suggests that the intake of vitamin E is relatively safe for less than 2 years at 2000 IU per day.

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  5. Curcumin enhances wound healing

    Full source :WOUND REPAIR AND REGENERATION, 1999, Vol 7, Iss 5, pp 362-374

    A study evaluated the effectiveness of curcumin treatment on impaired wound healing in diabetic rodents. Wounds of animals treated with curcumin showed earlier formation of epithelium (cells covering all the free surfaces in the body), improved neovascularization (proliferation of blood vessels in tissue), the increased movement of various cells (such as macrophages) into the wound area, and a higher collagen content. Transforming growth factor-beta 1 also increased. A delay in apoptosis (programmed cell death) was seen in diabetic wounds compared to curcumin treated wounds, which shows that curcumin fostered quicker healing and growth of new cells. Curcumin was effective both orally and topically. These results show that curcumin enhanced wound repair in tissue where healing had been previously been impaired by diabetes.

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  6. Vitamin B-12 deficiency in the elderly

    Full source: PRESSE MEDICALE , 1999, Vol 28, Iss 32 pp 1767-1770

    In a study of a geriatric population, in most cases, the increased plasma homocysteine and decreased blood concentration of folic acid was attributed to tissue deficiency of cobalamins (vitamin B-12) and/or folic acid. Blood homocysteine concentration was increased in 88 of 168 patients. Thus, many patients with increased blood homocysteine concentrations need further vitamin supplementation despite their normal vitamin levels in the blood.

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  7. Vitamin B-12 and folic acid deficiency in elderly

    Full source: DEMENTIA AND GERIATRIC COGNITIVE DISORDERS, 1999, Vol 10, Iss 6, pp 476-482

    In a study of a geriatric population, in most cases, the increased plasma homocysteine and decreased blood concentration of folic acid was attributed to tissue deficiency of cobalamins (vitamin B-12) and/or folic acid. Blood homocysteine concentration was increased in 88 of 168 patients. Thus, many patients with increased blood homocysteine concentrations need further vitamin supplementation despite their normal vitamin levels in the blood.

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  8. Cryosurgery for prostate cancer

    Full source: CANCER, 1999, Vol 86, Iss 9, pp 1793-1801

    In the mid-1960s, cryosurgery was an alternative to radiotherapy or radical prostatectomy. Although it was effective, it had a high incidence of complications. Technologic advances in the areas of imaging and urethral warming have renewed interest in this treatment. A study showed that, following a decline in well-being immediately after cryosurgery, 12 months after cryosurgery all aspects of the participants' well-being had returned to pretreatment levels, with the exception of decreased sexual function. The hospital stay after treatment was 1 day for 94% of the participants, and returning to work averaged 3 weeks. Compared with men who received the standard treatments of radical prostatectomy and radical radiotherapy, men treated with cryosurgery appeared to have a similar quality of life.

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  9. Vitamin D: Non-skeletal actions and effects on growth

    Full source: NUTRITION RESEARCH, 1999, Vol 19, Iss 11, pp 1683-1718

    Vitamin D (calcitriol) has recently been shown essential for the growth of soft tissue in addition to its known effect on skeletal growth. Vitamin D has beneficial effects on almost all the organ-systems of the body and is required for the normal cardiovascular, reproductive and neural functions. It has a positive effect on the immune system and it influences the release of hormones from the endocrine glands. Through its antitumor activity, it inhibits leukemia, and cancers of the colon, kidney, breast, and prostate. Vitamin D may be extremely useful in the management of osteoporosis, endocrinopathies, perinatal growth retardation, psoriasis, transplantation, and neoplasia.

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  10. Curcumin inhibits development of colon cancer

    Full source: ONCOGENE, 1999, Vol 18, Iss 44, pp 6013-6020

    A study found that curcumin inhibits the initiation of COX2 in human colon cells which is caused by colon tumor promoters (such as tumor necrosis factor A). Cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX2), an enzyme which affects the build up of prostaglandins during inflammation, and which is more active in colon tumors, is thought to play an important role in the development of colon cancer. (Prostaglandins are active substances present in many tissues, with effects such as widening or narrowing of the blood vessels, stimulation of intestinal or bronchial smooth muscle, stimulation of the uterus, and antagonism to hormones influencing lipid metabolism). COX2 action is caused by inflammatory cytokines (proteins), or by free radicals produced from low levels of oxygen. In animals, curcumin possesses potent anti-inflammatory activity and prevents colon cancer. Curcumin therapy should be considered for the prevention of colon cancer considering its long history of consumption without adverse health effects.

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  11. Bacterial infections may cause atherosclerosis

    Full source: AMERICAN HEART JOURNAL, 1999, Vol 138, Iss 5, Part 2, Suppl. S, pp S431-S433

    Recently, bacterial infections such as Chlamydia pneumonia and dental infections have been identified as risk factors for both stroke and heart attack. In addition to being risk factors for cardiovascular disease, they may also have some direct role in the process of hardening of the arteries. Infection may act as a synergistic risk factor together with classic risk factors in the development of various cardiovascular diseases.

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  12. Exercise prevents premature death and CHD

    Full source: AMERICAN HEART JOURNAL, 1999, Vol 138, Iss 5, Part 1, pp 900-907

    A 16 year study of 5,209 men and women showed that people who are physically active live longer. The results showed that the reduction in overall mortality rates is more associated with recent activity than distant activity. These results suggest that for sedentary patients, it may never be too late to begin exercising.



  13. Arginine, taurine and homocysteine in CD

    Full source: ANNALS OF MEDICINE, 1999, Vol 31, Iss 5, pp 318-326

    Arginine, taurine and homocysteine are amino acids which have been shown to affect the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases (CD) in humans. The amino acids, arginine and taurine may protect against cardiovascular diseases by lowering blood pressure. Arginine may also inhibit lipid deposits in the arteries that cause arteriosclerosis, and taurine may have antioxidant properties. Elevated levels of blood homocysteine may be associated with hardening of the arteries and stroke. Folic acid supplementation is effective in reducing homocysteine.



  14. Combination therapy for malignant melanoma

    Full source: CANCER, 1999, Vol 86, Iss 9, pp 1733-1741

    Suramin, an antitumor agent is useful for some human tumors but limited in use by its toxicity. When a low, therapeutically ineffective dose of suramin (75 mg/kg) suramin was combined with a toxin directed at the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptor, a 79-82% improvement was observed in animals receiving the suramin plus toxin combination regimens compared with tumor volumes from control group. This method served to lower the therapeutic effective dose of suramin, eliminating the suramin-related lethal toxicity (12% mortality rate) observed in animals treated with high dose suramin. The results show that combining suramin with receptor-directed therapies offers a more effective regimen for the treatment of malignant melanoma.



  15. Beta-carotene decreases risk of prostate cancer

    Full source: CANCER, 1999, Vol 86, Iss 9, pp 1783-1792

    A cancer prevention study followed 22,071 U.S. male physicians age 40-84 years for 12 years who supplemented with beta-carotene (50 mg every other day). 1,439 men were subsequently diagnosed with cancer, 631 with prostate carcinoma. Men in the lowest 25% group for blood levels of beta-carotene at the start had a marginally significant increased risk of cancer compared with those in the highest 25%. When the lowest 25% were assigned to beta-carotene supplementation, they had a decrease in overall cancer risk (all cancers) 17% compared with those assigned to the placebo. This overall decrease in cancer risk was mostly due to a 32% reduction in the risk of prostate cancer group. This supports the idea that risk of prostate cancer is reduced among those who supplement their diet with beta-carotene.



  16. Interaction of St John's Wort with digoxin

    Full source :CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY & THERAPEUTICS, 1999, Vol 66, Iss 4, pp 338-345

    Extracts of St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) are widely and successfully used in the treatment of depression. A study looked at the effect of hypericum extract on digoxin (a cardioactive steroid used in the treatment of certain heart diseases, especially congestive heart failure). After digoxin was administered, 10 days of treatment with hypericum extract resulted in a 25% decrease in digoxin. This underscores the need for physicians to be aware of potential drug-herb interactions.



  17. Curcumin inhibits genetic cause of cancer

    Full source: CLINICAL IMMUNOLOGY, 1999, Vol 93, Iss 2, pp 152-161

    It is well known that curcumin is a powerful inhibitor of proliferation of several tumor cell lines. In a study at low concentrations, curcumin inhibited the proliferation of an immature B cell lymphoma, more effectively than that of normal B lymphocytes (immune system cells) and caused the apoptosis (programmed cell death) of the cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Curcumin also played a role in the reduction of the action of genes that help tumors survive. Thus, curcumin stopped the growth as well as initiated apoptosis of immature B cell lymphoma by downregulation of growth and survival promoting genes.


  18. CoQ10 decreases DNA damage in human lymphocytes

    Full source: FREE RADICAL BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE, 1999, Vol 27, Iss 9-10, pp 1027-1032

    Coenzyme Q(10) is a powerful antioxidant in blood and lipoproteins. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which is a free radical generator, causes DNA damage. A study showed that when lymphocytes (immune system cells) were exposed to H2O2, there was a rapid decrease of CoQ10 in both CoQ10 enriched and in control cells. However, in 30 minutes, in CoQ10 enriched cells compared with control cells, the amount of DNA strand breaks in the cells was lower and the viability of the cells was significantly higher. Thus, supplementation with CoQ10 enhances DNA resistance towards free radicals brought on by H2O2. However, it does not directly inhibit DNA strand break formation.


  19. Melanoma vaccine

    Full source: HUMAN GENE THERAPY, 1999, Vol 10, Iss 16, pp 2719-2724

    A vaccine that attempted to provide immunity from melanoma (skin cancer) to a rodents brought about a variety of responses against melanoma including delayed tumor growth and significantly prolonged survival compared with control treated mice. The study showed that it is possible for a tumor vaccine to potentially be used for human cancer treatment and prevention.


  20. Human longevity at the cost of reproductive success

    Full source: Nature, 1998, Vol 396, Iss 6713, pp 743-746

    The disposable soma theory on the evolution of aging states that longevity requires investments in somatic maintenance that reduce the resources available for reproduction. Experiments with the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) indicate that trade-offs of this kind exist in non-human species. This study determined the interrelationship between longevity and reproductive success in humans using historical data from the British aristocracy. The number of progeny was small when women died at an early age, increased with the age of death, reaching a plateau through the sixth, seventh and eighth decades of life, but decreased again in women who died at an age of 80 years or over. Age at first childbirth was lowest in women who died early and highest for women who died at the oldest ages. When account was taken only of women who had reached menopause, who were aged 60 years and over, female longevity was oppositely associated with number of progeny and positively associated with age at first childbirth. The findings show that human life histories involve a trade-off between longevity and reproduction.



  21. Antioxidant supplementation reverses age-related neuronal changes

    Full source: Neurobiology of Aging, 1998, Vol 19, Iss 5, pp 461-467

    Evidence suggests that free radicals in the brain may play a role in the development of age-related neuronal impairments. The increase in the concentration of the proinflammatory cytokine (cells which regulate immune responses), interleukin-1 beta (can cause fever, induce synthesis of acute phase proteins, and initiate metabolic wasting), in aged brain tissue, may also be a contributory factor. This study analyzed changes in enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidant levels, in parallel with interleukin-1 beta concentration, in cortical brain tissue prepared from young and aged rats. Results showed an age-related increase in the activity of superoxide dismutase and an age-related decrease in the concentrations of vitamin E and C. These observations, coupled with age-related increases in lipid peroxidation and interleukin-1 beta concentration show a compromised antioxidant defense in cortex of aged rats. These negative changes were not observed in cortical tissue prepared from rats fed on a diet supplemented with vitamin E and C for 12 weeks.



  22. Safflower oil vs. perilla oil on lipid metabolism

    Full source: Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B - Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, 1998, Vol 121, Iss 2, pp 223-231

    Diets high in linoleic acid (20% safflower oil contained 77.3% linoleic acid, SO-diet) and a-linolenic acid (20% perilla oil contained 58.4% alpha-linolenic acid, PO-diet) were fed to rats for 3, 7, 20, and 50 days, and effects of the diets on lipid metabolism were compared. Levels of serum total cholesterol and phospholipids in the rats fed the PO-diet were markedly lower than those fed the SO-diet after the seventh day. In blood and liver phosphatidylcholine, the proportion of n-3 fatty acids showed a greater increase in the PO group than in the SO group. The results indicate that alpha-linolenic acid (perilla oil) has a more potent serum cholesterol-lowering ability than linoleic acid (safflower oil) both in short and long feeding terms.




  23. Osteoporosis in men - prevention and management

    Full source: Drugs & Aging, 1998, Vol 13, Iss 6, pp 421-434

    Osteoporosis is increasingly recognized in men. Low bone mass, risk factors for falling and factors causing fractures in women are likely to cause fractures in men. Bone mass is largely genetically determined, but environmental factors also contribute. Greater muscle strength and physical activity are associated with higher bone mass, while radial bone loss is greater in cigarette smokers or those with a moderate alcohol intake. Sex hormones have important effects on bone physiology, In men, there is no abrupt cessation of testicular function or 'andropause' comparable with the menopause in women; however, both total and free testosterone levels decline with age. A common secondary cause of osteoporosis in men is hypogonadism. There is increasing evidence that estrogens are important in skeletal maintenance in men as well as women. Conversion of androgens to estrogens occurs. Human models exist for the effects of estrogens on the male skeleton. In men over 65, there is a positive association between bone mineral density (BMD) and greater serum estradiol levels at all skeletal sites and a negative association between BMD and testosterone at some sites. It is important to exclude pathological causes of osteoporosis here because 30 to 60% of men with vertebral fractures have another illness contributing to bone disease. Glucocorticoid (steroids) excess (mostly originating outside the body) is common. Gastrointestinal disease makes patients susceptible to bone disease as a result of intestinal malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D. Hypercalciuria and nephrolithiasis, anticonvulsant drug use, thyrotoxicosis, immobilization, liver and renal disease, multiple myeloma and systemic mastocytosis have all been associated with osteoporosis in men. It is possible that low-dose estrogen therapy or specific estrogen receptor-modulating drugs might increase BMD in men as well as in women. In the future, parathyroid hormones may be an effective treatment for osteoporosis, particularly in patients in whom other treatments, such as bisphosphonates, have failed. Men with osteoporosis of unknown origin have low circulating insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1, somatomedin-l) concentrations, and IGF-1 administration. Studies of changes in BMD with IGF-I treatment in osteoporotic men and women are underway. Osteoporosis in men will become an increasing worldwide public health problem over the next 20 years, so it is vital that safe and effective therapies for this disabling condition become available.



  24. GH deficiency: Signs, symptoms, and diagnosis

    Full source: Endocrinologist, 1998, Vol 8, Iss 6, Suppl. 1, pp 8S-14S

    The use of growth hormone (GH) for children with growth hormone deficiency (CHD) is well established. However, GHD is a syndrome that affects patients of all ages. Literature on pediatric GHD is extensive because treatment of this condition with GH replacement was approved about 12 years ago. Although GH-replacement therapy for adult GHD has been accepted practice in Europe for nearly 15 years, it was approved only recently for this indication in the United States. In adults, GHD has nonspecific symptoms, such as fatigue and impaired psychointellectual capacities, or no symptoms. Measurable alterations induced by GHD in adults may include altered body composition, reduced bone mineral density, impaired physical performance, abnormal lipid metabolism, and impaired quality of life. GHD is common in patients with treated or untreated pituitary tumors or other disorders of the pituitary, patients who have had cranial irradiation, and adults with a history of childhood-onset GHD. Isolated low levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) may indicate GHD but cannot substitute for a testing process wherein there is an inadequate response of blood GH to insulin induced hypoglycemia.



  25. Curcumin and cell membrane dynamics

    Full source: Experimental Cell Research, 1998, Vol 245, Iss 2, pp 303-312

    Curcumin is a well-known natural compound with anti-inflammatory properties. Its antiproliferative effect and ability to modulate apoptosis (programmed cell death) are considered essential in cancer therapy. Due to the properties of curcumin, it targets local membranes. This prompted an investigation of the mechanisms of membrane changes evoked by curcumin. Curcumin was found to expand the cell membrane, inducing echinocytosis (overabundance of prickly cells). Changes in cell shape were accompanied by transient exposure of phosphatidylserine. Membrane disproportion was recovered by the action of an enzyme, which remained active in the presence of curcumin. Lipids rearrangements and drug partitioning caused changes of lipid fluidity. Based on these results, curcumin would produce various incidents of beneficial apoptosis.



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