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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine May 2007
In The News

Folic Acid Cuts Risk of Cleft Lip in Infants

Women who consume folic acid supplements early in their pregnancies markedly reduce the risk of cleft lip in their infants, according to a newly published study from Norway.* Cleft lip often accompanies cleft palate, a common birth defect.

Researchers examined 377 infants born with cleft lip with or without cleft palate, 196 infants with cleft palate, and 763 healthy babies born between 1996 and 2000. Their mothers were questioned about smoking, drug use, diet, and multivitamin and folic acid supplement use during the first three months of pregnancy. Food-frequency questionnaires completed by the mothers were analyzed for folate content.

Women who supplemented with at least 400 mcg of folic acid daily reduced the risk of cleft lip in their infants by 40%. Folate from diet alone had a more moderate benefit, with a 25% risk reduction in infants born to women whose intake was among the top half of the group. Women who consumed at least a 400-mcg folic acid supplement, whose dietary intake of folate was in the top half of subjects, and who also consumed a multivitamin supplement had a 74% lower risk of cleft lip in their infants compared to women who took none of these measures.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Wilcox AJ, Lie RT, Solvoll K, et al. Folic acid supplements and risk of facial clefts: national population based case-control study. BMJ. 2007 Jan 26; [Epub ahead of print].

Low-Dose Aspirin May Reduce Asthma Risk

Low-dose aspirin taken every other day reduced the risk of developing asthma in a large-scale clinical trial, report researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.*

The double-blind Physician’s Health Study tracked 22,071 healthy male physicians, aged 40-84, who consumed low-dose aspirin or a placebo on alternate days. The study was terminated after nearly five years, when a dramatic 44% reduction in the risk of a first heart attack was found among those who took aspirin. Of the 11,037 men who took aspirin, 113 developed asthma, compared to 145 who received a placebo and developed asthma. The risk reduction was not affected by smoking status, body mass index, or age.

According to the study authors, “Aspirin reduced the risk by 22% of newly diagnosed adult-onset asthma. These results suggest that aspirin may reduce the development of asthma in adults.”

—Dayna Dye

Editor’s note: Aspirin reduced the risk of developing new-onset asthma in these adults. For some people who already have asthma, however, aspirin can act as an irritant that may trigger asthma symptoms.

Reference

* Barr RG, Kurth T, Stampfer MJ, Buring JE, Hennekens CH, Gaziano JM. Aspirin and decreased adult-onset asthma: randomized comparisons from the physicians’ health study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007 Jan 15;175(2):120-5.

Scientists Warn of Osteoporosis Risk in Men

Long viewed as a women’s disease, osteoporosis can severely afflict men as well, and physicians can no longer afford to overlook the disease in male patients, according to Canadian researchers.*

While one in four older women are thought to have osteoporosis, one in eight men over the age of 50 has the disease, and one in three men die following a fracture, compared to one in five women. The Canadian researchers recently developed guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of male osteoporosis. The guidelines identify primary and secondary risk factors for the disease, and recommend bone mineral density testing for all men over 65 and in younger men with osteoporosis risk factors, as well as long-term monitoring of height to detect compression fractures of the spine. Recommended treatment options include bisphosphonate drugs and consumption of 800 IU or more per day of vitamin D.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Khan AA, Hodsman AB, Papaioannou A, Kendler D, Brown JP, Olszynski WP. Management of osteoporosis in men: an update and case example. CMAJ. 2007 Jan 30;176(3):345-8.

Quercetin Repels Viral Illness, Counters Stress

Quercetin, an antioxidant compound found in foods such as red grapes and green tea, reduces viral illnesses and helps maintain mental performance under conditions of extreme physical stress, according to researchers at Appalachian State University.*

In a federally funded, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, 40 cyclists were given either 1000 mg of quercetin (combined with vitamin C and niacin to aid absorption) or a placebo for five weeks. During the third week, the athletes rode a bicycle to the point of exhaustion, three hours a day for three days. Blood and tissue samples were analyzed to ascertain physiological changes.

Forty-five percent of those given the placebo reported illness after being physically stressed, compared to only 5% of the group that received quercetin. No side effects were observed. The scientists observed that “this is the first clinical study that has found a natural plant compound to prevent viral illness.” The athletes taking the quercetin supplement also maintained their ability to react to an alertness test when exhausted, whereas those who took the placebo became measurably slower.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Available at: http://www.news.appstate.edu/2007/02/08/health-5/. Accessed February 13, 2007.

Vitamin D Prevents Alcohol-Related Bone Loss

Excessive alcohol consumption can damage bones as well as the liver. However, consuming vitamin D or the osteoporosis drug ibandronate (Boniva®) helps prevent bone loss caused by regular binge drinking, report Loyola University scientists.*

Repeated binge drinking decreases bone mineral density and bone strength, contributing to osteoporosis. Until now, however, ways to prevent or reverse alcohol-related bone loss have been unknown. The Loyola scientists administered either vitamin D or ibandronate to male mice, and then exposed them to alcohol. Pretreatment with vitamin D prevented alcohol-induced bone loss, while increasing bone mineral density in the tibia (shin bone) and lower spine. Pretreatment with ibandronate similarly prevented alcohol-related bone loss.

Although vitamin D works by building bone and ibandronate works by offsetting age-related bone loss, the two produce similar protective benefits for bone health in those exposed to alcohol.

—Elizabeth Wagner, ND

Reference

* Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSCOL05983720070130. Accessed February 7, 2007.

New York Academy of Sciences Highlights Neuroprotective Benefits of Life Extension Phytoestrogen Formula

Life Extension’s phyto-estrogen formula provides powerful neuroprotective benefits, according to a recent report published in the prestigious Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.1 Italian scientists with no financial ties to Life Extension conducted the study.

The researchers examined the ability of Life Extension’s Natural Estrogen supplement—a blend of plant-derived phytoestrogens such as soy and licorice root—to protect the central nervous system against inflammation and degeneration. The study focused on cells in the central nervous system that fuel neuro-degenerative diseases by releasing large amounts of inflammatory cytokines.

For two weeks, adult female rats were fed standard food and the Natural Estrogen formula, while a control group received standard food but no formula.

The scientists then harvested cells from the animals’ central nervous systems and exposed them to an inflammation-provoking toxin. For the next 24 hours, they measured levels of inflammatory and protective cytokines in the cell cultures.

Exposure to the toxin increased levels of all the measured cytokines, but cells of the phytoestrogen-supplemented rats displayed significantly lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin beta, and interleukin-6) and higher levels of a neuroprotective compound known as transforming growth factor beta.1 These findings suggest that the formula protects brain and nervous system health by decreasing the production of disease-provoking cytokines.

While this study utilized Life Extension’s Natural Estrogen formula, consumers now have access to the advanced Natural Estrogen with Pomegranate Extract formula. Pomegranate further helps to suppress the production of inflammatory cytokines,2 making it one of the most powerful health-promoting remedies available today.

—Elizabeth Wagner, ND

Reference

1. Marotta F, Mao GS, Liu T, et al. Anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effect of a phytoestrogen compound on rat microglia. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Nov;1089:276-81.
2. Ahmed S, Wang N, Hafeez BB, Cheruvu VK, Haqqi TM. Punica granatum L. extract inhibits IL-1beta-induced expression of matrix metalloproteinases by inhibiting the activation of MAP kinases and NF-kappaB in human chondrocytes in vitro. J Nutr. 2005 Sep;135(9):2096-102.

Fish, Plant Foods Lower Risk of Blood Clots

A diet rich in plant foods and fish, with little meat, is associated with reduced rates of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota.*

The scientists analyzed data from 14,962 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study to determine whether consuming fish, vegetables, and fruit was linked to a lower incidence of venous thromboembolism over an average 12.5 years of follow-up. Dietary questionnaires were completed by participants at the study onset and during the sixth year. One hundred ninety-six cases of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism were identified during the follow-up period.

Participants in the top fifth of fruit and vegetable intake had a 41% lower risk of venous thromboembolism compared to those whose intake was in the lowest fifth. Eating fish at least once a week was associated with a 30-45% lower incidence of the condition compared to less frequent fish consumption. Venous thromboembolism incidence was 34-51% lower for those who consumed at least 160 mcg of folate daily compared to those who consumed less. Vitamin B6 and omega-3 fatty acid intake also appeared to be protective, while meat intake was associated with increased risk.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Steffen LM, Folsom AR, Cushman M, Jacobs DR Jr, Rosamond WD. Greater fish, fruit, and vegetable intakes are related to lower incidence of venous thromboembolism: the Longitudinal Investigation of Thromboembolism Etiology. Circulation. 2007 Jan 16;115(2):188-95.