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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine May 2003

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Predict Your Risk of Future Disease

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Interpreting results obtained from The Inflammatory Cytokine Test Panel

There are many chronic disease states that can now be managed by the proper utilization of the Inflammatory Cytokine Test Panel. If you are elderly, or suffer from any serious disorder, these cytokine tests can enable your doctor to prescribe therapies that specifically target the inflammatory cytokine responsible for your poor state of health.

For example, if you suffer from congestive heart failure, and your levels of TNF-a remain persistently high, you may ask your doctor to prescribe the drug Enbrel®, which specifically counteracts the destructive effects of TNF-a. If you suffer from cancer and your levels of IL-6 remain persistently high, you may consider high dose DHEA or ask your doctor to prescribe a bisphosphonate drug (such as Zometa® that protects against bone destruction) that releases excess IL-6 from the body. Those with prostate,

certain types of breast cancer and other hormonally driven cancer should consider other IL-6 lowering therapies (such as high dose DHA fish oil extract) in lieu of DHEA.

Identifying the underlying cause of elevated C-reactive protein

C-reactive protein indicates an inflammatory process is going on in the body, but does not identify the specific pro-inflammatory cytokine that may be the underlying cause.

In order to enable members to identify the specific cytokine that may be causing a chronic inflammatory condition, a new blood test panel is available that detects abnormally high levels of the most dangerous pro-inflammatory cytokines. Here is the new Inflammatory Cytokine Test Panel showing optimal anti-inflammatory ranges:

Pro-inflammatory Cytokine
Anti-Inflammatory Range
Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a)
No more than 25 pg/mL
Interleukin-1 beta
(IL-1b)
No more than 150 pg/mL
Interleukin-6 (IL-6)
No more than 29 pg/mL
Interleukin-8 (IL-8)
No more than 80 pg/mL

Some cancer patients display elevated levels of IL-8, which induces cancer cells to express growth factors that fuel their propagation. In hepatitis C, elevated IL-8 signals interferon drug resistance. An IL-8 suppressing therapy will soon be available to Americans (it is already used in Japan).

Those with systemic inflammatory disease often manifest high levels of IL-1b. If diet, the anti-inflammatory supplements (fish oil, borage oil, DHEA, etc.) and cytokine-suppressing drugs (pentoxifylline, 400 mg twice a day) fail to suppress this destructive cytokine, then ask your doctor to prescribe the drug Arava (leflunomide), starting at the low dose of 10 mg a day.

Low-cost cytokine testing

Few physicians have recognized the critical importance of suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines in the treatment of degenerative disease. As a result, there has been little demand for cytokine tests and commercial blood laboratories have been charging exorbitant prices for the four most important inflammatory cytokine tests.

The good news is that Life Extension Buyers Club has been able to establish a relationship with the largest blood-testing laboratory in the United States to offer an inflammatory cytokine profile at an affordable price.

The standard commercial price for the four most dangerous inflammatory cytokines is around $645.00. The Life Extension Buyers Club has negotiated a retail price for the complete inflammatory cytokine panel of only $435.00. The cost of individual cytokine tests to Life Extension members is then discounted as follows:

Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF-a) $99.00
Interleukin-6 (IL-6) $99.00
Interleukin 1(b) (IL1(b) $99.00
Interleukin-8 (IL-8) $99.00

If all four of these tests are ordered at once, the member's price is reduced to $295.00.

Life Extension has medical doctors available by phone to assist members in understanding what the results of inflammatory cytokine tests indicate. There is no additional charge for this consultation service.

To order a high sensitivity C-reactive protein blood test, the Inflammatory Cytokine Blood Panel, or any other blood tests by mail order, call 1-800-208-3444. Until June 1, 2003, the price of a high-sensitivity C-reactive protein test is only $42.00.

Why annual blood tests are crucial to protecting one's health

How to lower elevated C-reactive protein

Those who are in relative good health, but have elevated C-reactive protein, can try to lower it using a variety of diet modifications, supplements and/or medication. Supplements such as vitamin E, borage oil, fish oil, DHEA, vitamin K and nettle leaf extract can lower C-reactive protein. Diets low in arachidonic acid, omega-6 fatty acids, saturated fats, high-glycemic food and overcooked food can suppress inflammatory factors in the body.

If diet and supplements fail, drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, pentoxifylline or one of the statins (such as Pravachol®) should be tried. If the modified diet, nutrients and/or drugs lower C-reactive protein to below 1.3 (mg/L) of blood, then this is an indication that the underlying inflammatory fire has been extinguished. Some doctors recommend that men's C-reactive protein levels be kept under 0.55 mg/L of blood. (Make sure to always ask for the high-sensitivity C-reactive protein blood test).

Individuals with chronic disease sometimes find it difficult to suppress C-reactive protein. In these cases, it is important to identify the specific inflammatory cytokines that are responsible for the destructive inflammatory processes that is causing or contributing to the underlying disease state. This enables a custom tailored program to be implemented, and its success measured by suppressing the pro-inflammatory cytokine culprits. For instance, if levels of TNF-a levels are elevated, and natural approaches fail to lower it, the prescription drug Enbrel should be considered.

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Health conscious people often fail to appreciate the critical importance of regular blood screening as part of their overall disease prevention program. The most comprehensive blood test is called the CBC/Chemistry Profile. This low-cost profile measures over 40 different blood parameters that can have a dramatic impact on one's state of health.

One of the many serious disorders that can be detected by the CBC/Chemistry Profile is calcium overload. This condition is caused when too much calcium is removed from the bone and deposited into the vascular system. Unless discovered by a blood test, people often don't find out about calcium imbalance until after they suffer a crippling bone fracture, a painful kidney stone (renal calculi) or heart valve failure (due to excess valvular calcification). These diseases often manifest years after the calcium imbalance first begins; yet, a low-cost CBC/Chemistry Profile can detect this problem early and enable the person to take relatively simple nutritional steps to correct the calcium imbalance before it causes a disease state.

Another disorder people encounter as they grow older is elevated serum glucose that can contribute to the development of arterial and neurological disease and accelerate aging through a process known as glycation. If high glucose is discovered, there are lifestyle changes, drug and nutrient therapies available to bring these levels into normal ranges.

Excess amounts of serum iron will generate massive free radicals throughout the body that significantly increase the risk of cancer, atherosclerosis and probably neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. If a blood test shows iron levels are too high, there are many ways to bring it down. It seems illogical to wait for an iron overload-induced disease to manifest just because you did not want to "bother" getting an annual CBC/Chemistry Profile.

The CBC/Chemistry Profile includes measurements of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. If you are taking a statin drug or a cholesterol-lowering supplement like policosanol, it is imperative that you ascertain if the proper dose is being taken.

Some people taking cholesterol-blocking agents actually reduce their cholesterol to dangerously low levels (below 150 mg/dL). The findings from a CBC/Chemistry can provide a basis for the dose of a cholesterol-blocking agent to be increased or decreased in order to achieve optimal benefits. Anyone taking a cholesterol-blocking agent should check his or her blood levels at least once a year, not only to maintain optimal cholesterol levels, but to also guard against liver toxicity.

If triglyceride levels are above 100 mg/dL, high-dose fish oil supplements can normally reduce levels of this artery-clogging lipid.

Protecting against drug-induced toxicities

The average person over age 60 takes several prescription drugs every day to treat or prevent chronic medical conditions. Toxic side effects from medication result in the death of 125,000 to 189,000 Americans each year. According to the American Medical Association, adverse reactions to prescription drugs are a leading cause of death in the United States. The American Medical Association emphasizes that these deaths are occurring even though doctors, who are supposed to monitor patients to prevent these drug-induced deaths, are prescribing the drugs.

The fact is, HMOs are seeking to save money in the short-term and are often not recommending CBC/Chemistry Profiles that would help detect drug-induced liver and kidney impairment in time to prevent disability and death. If you are taking certain prescription medications, regular blood testing is mandatory according to the FDA, yet doctors routinely fail to prescribe the recommended blood tests and their patients pay the "ultimate" price.

It's not just prescription drugs that can cause irreversible liver or kidney damage. There are many factors (alcohol, over-the-counter drugs, excess niacin, hepatitis C) that can make a person susceptible to liver or kidney damage. For most people, these conditions smolder for years until a life-threatening medical crisis occurs. Due to a phenomenon known as "individual variability," some people are especially vulnerable to liver and kidney damage. In these cases a CBC/Chemistry Profile can detect an underlying problem in time to take corrective actions.

Maintaining a youthful hormone balance

Aging causes significant alterations in hormone balance.
In aging men, beneficial hormones such as testosterone, DHEA and growth hormone decline, while less desirable hormones such as estrogen and insulin often increase. The effects of these hormone imbalances can manifest as clinical depression, increased abdominal obesity, diminished mental and physical energy levels and loss of libido.

Aging females often suffer a progesterone and DHEA deficit, while levels of estrogen and testosterone can become too high or low. The clinical effects of these hormone imbalances in females often manifest as the symptoms associated with menopause, depression, loss of bone mass and loss of libido. In both men and women, the failure to correct hormone imbalance can directly contribute to cardiovascular disease, certain forms of cancer, type II diabetes, osteoporosis and neuronal degeneration.

Fortunately, once hormone status is ascertained, through blood testing, definitive corrective action can be taken to safely restore hormone balance to a youthful range.

The rationale for blood testing

Annual blood testing is a cornerstone of any scientific program designed to extend the healthy human life span. Conventional doctors often refuse, or don't know how to order the type of blood tests that can reveal correctable underlying risk factors for developing degenerative disease.

For further information and scientific references about using blood tests to protect against aging-related disease, refer to the following protocols in the Life Extension Foundation's Disease Prevention and Treatment reference book, or web site at www.lef.org:

  • Male Hormone Modulation Protocol
  • Female Hormone Modulation Protocol
  • Atherosclerosis Protocol
  • Homocysteine Protocol
  • Fibrinogen Protocol
  • Depression Protocol
  • DHEA Protocol
  • DHEA Replacement Therapy Protocol
  • Cardiovascular Protocol
  • Inflammation (chronic) Protocol

The Life Extension Foundation initiated a program in 1996 to enable its members to request any blood test and to receive the actual results of these tests. This service has enabled members to detect abnormalities that can be brought to the attention of their physician, or corrected by lifestyle changes. Life Extension members save more than 50% compared to the prices charged by commercial blood testing laboratories, and avoid having to pay for a doctor's visit just to order the tests.

People too often fall victim to a disease that could have been prevented if their blood was tested every year. When a blood test reveals an abnormality, corrective actions can often be taken to prevent a serious disease from developing. Refer to the next page for information about mail order blood testing, including the recommended Male and Female Panels.


References

1. Virmani, R. et al. Vulnerable plaque: the pathology of unstable coronary lesions. J Interv Cardiol 2002 Dec; 15(6): 439-46.

2. Teunissen, C.E. et al. Inflammation markers in relation to cognition in a healthy aging population. J Neuroimmunol 2003 Jan; 134(1-2): 142-50.

3. Pradhan, A.D., Ridker, P.M. Do atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes share a common inflammatory basis? Eur Heart J 2002 Jun; 23(11): 831-4.

4. Miller, G.E. et al. Clinical depression and inflammatory risk markers for coronary heart disease, Am J Cardiol 2002 Dec 15; 90(12): 1279-83.

5. Verdecchia P. MD, et al. Risk of cardiovascular disease in relation to achieved office and ambulatory blood pressure control in treated hypertensive subjects. JACC, 2002 Mar 6;39(5):878-885.

6. Pradhan AD, et al. C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, and risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. JAMA 2001 Jul 18;286(3):327-34.

7. Harris TB, et al. Associations of elevated interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein levels with mortality in the elderly. Am J Med 1999 May;106(5):506-12.

8. Walston J, et al. Frailty and activation of the inflammation and coagulation systems with and without clinical comorbidities: results from the Cardiovascular Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002 Nov 11;162(20):2333-41.

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