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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine January 2008
In The News

Elevated Vitamin D Reduces Cancer Risk

Elevated Vitamin D Reduces Cancer Risk

High levels of serum vitamin D are associated with significantly reduced risks of developing colorectal, breast, and other cancers, according to several recently published reports.1-4 These findings support previous studies showing an apparent relationship between exposure to vitamin D-generating sunlight and cancer risk.5,6 According to a meta-analysis of five studies, serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D greater than or equal to 33 ng/mL (82 nmol/L) were associated with a 50% lower risk of colorectal cancer, compared with vitamin D levels of less than or equal to 12 ng/mL (30 nmol/L).2

In one study, leading vitamin D researcher Cedric F. Garland and his colleagues concluded: “The evidence to date suggests that daily intake of 1,000-2,000 IU/day of vitamin D(3) could reduce the incidence of colorectal [cancer] with minimal risk.”2 Similar findings have been published regarding vitamin D levels and risk of developing ovarian and breast cancers.3,4

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

1. Grant WB, Garland CF, Gorham ED. An estimate of cancer mortality rate reductions in Europe and the US with 1,000 IU of oral vitamin D per day. Recent Results Cancer Res. 2007;174:225-34.
2. Gorham ED, Garland CF, Garland FC, et al. Optimal vitamin D status for colorectal cancer prevention: a quantitative meta analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2007 Mar;32(3):210-6.
3. Garland CF, Mohr SB, Gorham ED, Grant WB, Garland FC. Role of ultraviolet B irradiance and vitamin D in prevention of ovarian cancer. Am J Prev Med. 2006 Dec;31(6):512-4.
4. Garland CF, Gorham ED, Mohr SB, et al. Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Mar;103(3-5):708-11.
5. Grant WB, Garland CF. The association of solar ultraviolet B (UVB) with reducing risk of cancer: multifactorial ecologic analysis of geographic variation in age-adjusted cancer mortality rates. Anticancer Res. 2006 Jul-Aug;26(4A):2687-99.
6. Grant WB, Strange RC, Garland CF. Sunshine is good medicine. The health benefits of ultraviolet-B induced vitamin D production. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2003 Apr;2(2):86-98.

Carbohydrates Linked to Macular Degeneration

A low glycemic-index diet, which suppresses the release of blood sugar, may reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, according to a recent report.*

Researchers gathered data from more than 4,000 participants in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). The study revealed that individuals with the lowest dietary glycemic index had the lowest prevalence of macular degeneration, which is a major cause of irreversible blindness and appears to be linked to several diabetes-related diseases including those of the eyes and heart. Furthermore, the scientists estimated that as many as 20% of cases of macular degeneration could have been prevented if the study participants had consumed diets with a glycemic index below the median.

“These cross-sectional analyses suggest that poor dietary carbohydrate quality as defined by dietary glycemic index, a modifiable risk factor, may increase the risk of [macular degeneration] through several common etiologic factors of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, including the formation of advanced glycation end products and increases in oxidative stress, inflammation, and hyperlipidemia,” wrote the researchers.

—Marc Ellman, MD

Reference

* Chiu CJ, Milton RC, Gensler G, Taylor A. Association between dietary glycemic index and age-related macular degeneration in nondiabetic participants in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jul;86(1):180-8.

Vitamin C and Linoleic Acid Prevent Signs of Skin Aging

Vitamin C and Linoleic Acid Prevent Signs of Skin Aging

A higher dietary intake of vitamin C and linoleic acid, combined with lower intakes of fats and carbohydrates, is associated with skin that retains a more youthful appearance, despite advancing age, British researchers reported recently.*

The investigators used dietary intake data gathered from more than 4,000 women, ranging in age from 40 to 74 years. Subjects received clinical examinations by dermatologists, who graded skin-aging appearance according to several criteria, including wrinkling, senile dryness, and skin atrophy.

Higher vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance and senile dryness, while higher intakes of linoleic acid were associated with decreased likelihood of senile dryness and skin atrophy. These associations were independent of age, race, sunlight exposure, and menopausal status.

Vitamin C is present in many fruits and vegetables, while linoleic acid occurs naturally in sunflower and safflower oils.

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

* Cosgrove MC, Franco OH, Granger SP, Murray PG, Mayes AE. Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Oct;86(4):1225-31.

Curcumin May Treat Intractable Brain Tumor

Curcumin May Treat Intractable Brain Tumor

Derived from the curry spice turmeric, curcumin may be a useful adjuvant therapy in the treatment of glioblastoma, an often difficult-to-treat form of brain cancer.* Malignant gliomas are aggressive, often-fatal tumors, due to their resistance to chemotherapy and/or radiation. Their survival is enhanced by over-expression of transcription factors such as nuclear factor-kappa B (NFkB) and activator protein-1 (AP-1).

Previous research has shown that curcumin exerts some of its anticancer activity by inhibiting these survival pathways. The researchers of the current study therefore examined its effects on various human and rodent glioma cell lines in the laboratory. Curcumin reduced survival of cancerous cells as well as sensitizing these cells to several existing chemotherapy agents, including cisplatin and doxorubicin, and to radiation. “These findings support a role for curcumin as an adjunct to traditional chemotherapy and radiation in the treatment of brain cancer,” the investigators concluded.

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

* Dhandapani KM, Mahesh VB, Brann DW. Curcumin suppresses growth and chemoresistance of human glioblastoma cells via AP-1 and NFkappaB transcription factors. J Neurochem. 2007 Jul;102(2):522-38.

Life Extension’s Acetyl-L-Carnitine Enhances Efficacy of Alzheimer’s Drug

Chinese scientists presented the results of anti-aging research at the third biennial Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) conference held this fall in Cambridge, England.* They reported using Life Extension’s highly purified acetyl-L-carnitine in experiments on specially bred mice, which exhibit signs of cognitive impairment associated with oxidative stress and decreased life span.

The experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that acetyl-L-carnitine, a mitochondrial antioxidant and brain nutrient, could improve the efficacy of donepezil (Aricept®), a drug commonly prescribed for the treatment of dementia related to Alzheimer’s disease. The drug works by blocking the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter that decreases precipitously in the brains of dementia patients.

Mice treated with both acetyl-L-carnitine and donepezil experienced a greater reduction in the undesirable enzyme than mice that received donepezil alone. Researchers speculated that acetyl-L-carnitine may work by enhancing the production of neurotransmitters, while also possibly improving the bioavailability of donepezil.

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

* Liu T, Minelli E, Chui DH, Bozzani A, Marotta F. High-grade purity acetyl-l-carnitine supplementation enhances acetylcholinesterase inhibitory effect of donepezil in brain of prematurely senescent mice. Abstract presented at SENS, Third Conference. Queens’ College, Cambridge, England; September 6-10, 2007.

Life Extension’s Green Tea Extract Reduces Oxidative Stress in the Brain

Life Extension’s concentrated green tea extract reduces stress-induced neuronal degeneration in rodents, according to a recent presentation from Beijing-based scientists.* Noting that aging and stress are both implicated in neurodegenerative disorders, the scientists investigated the effects of green tea extract on stress-induced changes in rats’ brains. Some rats received green tea extract before enduring long-term stressful confinement, while a second stressed confined group of rats did not receive the supplement.

Subsequent examination of the animals’ brains revealed control rats experienced “significant neuronal degeneration” in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that commonly exhibits significant degeneration among human Alzheimer’s disease patients. Rats pre-treated with green tea extract experienced far less hippocampal damage than control rats. Control rats also exhibited decreased antioxidant concentrations, and increased markers of oxidative stress, while these changes were “almost totally prevented” in test rats.

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

* Chui DH, Mao GS, Lorenzetti A, Liu T, Marandola P, Marotta F. Green tea extract mitigates stress-induced hippocampal neuronal oxidative stress and degeneration in old rats. SENS, Third Conference. Queens’ College, Cambridge, England; September 6-10, 2007.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Consumption Associated with Lower Diabetes Risk

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Consumption Associated with Lower Diabetes Risk

An increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the risk of developing type 1 diabetes, according to a study published in JAMA.*

Scientists examined omega-3 fatty acid consumption in children at increased genetic risk for type 1 diabetes and compared it with their risk of developing pancreatic islet autoimmunity, which is linked to diabetes. The researchers assessed omega-3 fatty acid intake using a dietary questionnaire in all 1,770 participants, and they measured omega-3 fatty acid content of red blood cell membranes in a subset of the children.

“Our study suggests that higher consumption of total omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a lower risk of diabetes autoimmunity in children at an increased genetic risk of type 1 diabetes,” lead researcher Dr. Jill Norris told Life Extension. A higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acids in the red blood cell membranes was also associated with a decreased risk of diabetes.

—Marc Ellman, MD

Reference

* Norris JM, Yin X, Lamb MM, et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and islet autoimmunity in children at increased risk for type 1 diabetes. JAMA. 2007 Sep 26;298(12):1420-8.

High Lycopene Level Reduces Risk of Advanced Prostate Cancer

High Lycopene Level Reduces Risk of Advanced Prostate Cancer

A newly published European study indicates that men with the highest blood levels of lycopene are 60% less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer, compared with men who have the lowest levels of the phytochemical.* Lycopene is a carotenoid compound abundantly present in tomatoes.

The study followed more than 137,000 men from eight European countries for approximately six years. Blood levels of vitamin A, various forms of vitamin E, and several carotenoids, including lycopene, were assessed for nearly 1,000 subjects who developed prostate cancer, and a comparable group of control subjects.

High blood concentrations of both total carotenoids and lycopene alone were associated with a 65% and a 60% reduction, respectively, in risk of developing the advanced form of prostate cancer. In this study, carotenoids did not appear to reduce the overall risk of developing prostate cancer.

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

* Key TJ, Appleby NE, Allen NE, et al. Plasma carotenoids, retinol, and tocopherols and the risk of prostate cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Sep;86(3):672-81.

Lack of Sleep Increases Mortality Risk

Scientists have long known that too little sleep is bad for your health.1,2 But according to a study reported recently at the annual conference of the British Sleep Society, insufficient sleep increases the risk of premature mortality, particularly from heart disease.3 While prior studies have examined the effects of disrupted sleep patterns, this is the first large-scale study to investigate the link between sleep duration and mortality.

The 17-year study of more than 10,000 British subjects revealed that people who decreased sleep time from seven to five or fewer hours per night experienced a 1.7-fold increase in mortality from all causes, while their risk of dying from heart disease more than doubled.3 Inadequate shut eye appears to be related to elevated blood pressure, which is associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Too much sleep may also be unhealthy. Investigators also reported a correlation between sleeping more than eight hours nightly and increased mortality risk.3

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

1. Grandner MA, Drummond SP. Who are the long sleepers? Towards an understanding of the mortality relationship. Sleep Med Rev. 2007 Oct;11(5):341-60.
2. Zisapel N. Sleep and sleep disturbances: biological basis and clinical implications. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2007 May;64(10):1174-86.
3. Available at: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-09/uow-rs092407.php. Accessed October 12, 2007.

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