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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine July 2008
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High-Dose Folate May Protect Against Damage Caused by Heart Attack

High-dose folic acid provides significant protection against the damaging effects of myocardial infarction (heart attack) in rats, according to a new report.*

Scientists pretreated rats with 10 mg folic acid/day or placebo for one week prior to inducing myocardial infarction and then restoring blood flow.

Folic acid-treated rats had less heart muscle dysfunction and lower levels of damaging superoxide than placebo recipients. During the simulated heart attack, ejection fraction (amount of blood pumped by the heart) dropped to 27% in the placebo group, but remained near normal at 73% in the folic acid group. Areas of heart tissue death in the treated group were less than 10% the size of those in the control group.

These findings suggest that folate acts as a cardiac energy reserve, “providing much needed energy for muscle contraction, in the form of ATP, at the same time the heart is being starved for oxygen-carrying blood by a blocked artery.”

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Moens AL, Champion HC, Claeys MJ, et al. High-dose folic acid pretreatment blunts cardiac dysfunction during ischemia coupled to maintenance of high-energy phosphates and reduces post-reperfusion injury. Circulation. 2008 Apr 8;117(14):1810-9.

Vitamin D May Relieve Pain of Diabetic Neuropathy

Vitamin D supplementation reduces pain levels in patients with diabetic neuropathy, according to a research letter published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.* Diabetic neuropathy occurs when high levels of glucose damage the nerves, and can cause burning, tingling, numbness, and throbbing sensations.

The investigators enrolled 51 type 2 diabetics with neuropathy for the study. All participants had insufficient levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (<24 ng/mL) at the study’s onset, and were given an average dose of 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D for three months.

Lower pain scores were correlated with higher levels of serum vitamin D. At the end of three months, vitamin D treatment reduced pain scores by 39-49%, depending on the pain scale used.

The authors concluded that vitamin D may help relieve neuropathic pain and could also benefit bone health and glycemic control in diabetic patients.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Lee P, Chen R. Vitamin D as an analgesic for patients with type 2 diabetes and neuropathic pain. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Apr 14;168(7):771-2.

Berry Consumption Moderates Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Berry Consumption Moderates Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Moderate berry consumption may help protect cardiovascular health through beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, and platelet function, according to a recent report.*

In Finland, 72 middle-aged men and women at risk for cardiovascular disease were randomly assigned to consume berries or control foods twice daily. After eight weeks, systolic blood pressure declined in the berry group (-1.5 mmHg) but increased in the control group (+0.5 mmHg); the benefit in the berry group was greatest among participants with hypertension, in whom the reduction reached 7.3 mmHg. Beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) increased significantly more in the berry group (+5.2%) than in controls (+0.6%). Platelet function was inhibited in the berry group (+11%) but not in the controls (-1.4%). Higher plasma concentrations of polyphenols in the berry group may explain the benefits seen.

By favorably altering blood pressure, platelet function, and blood pressure, berries may contribute to cardiovascular disease prevention, the authors concluded.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Erlund I, Koli R, Alfthan G, et al. Favorable effects of berry consumption on platelet function, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):323-31.

Vitamin E Supplementation Lengthens Survival in Alzheimer’s Disease Patients

Vitamin E Supplementation Lengthens Survival in Alzheimer’s Disease Patients

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease who supplement with vitamin E may live longer than those who do not take the vitamin, according to findings presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting.*

Investigators followed 847 men and women with Alzheimer’s disease for an average of five years. About two-thirds of the participants consumed 1,000 IU vitamin E twice a day along with a cholinesterase inhibitor drug commonly used to treat their disease. Fewer than 10% of the remaining subjects used vitamin E alone, and 15% used neither therapy. Participants who took vitamin E with or without drug treatment had a 26% lower risk of dying than those who did not take the vitamin.

“Vitamin E has previously been shown to delay the progression of moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease,” one of the authors stated. “Now, we’ve been able to show that vitamin E appears to increase the survival time of Alzheimer’s patients as well.”

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Available at: http://www.abstracts2view.com/aan2008chicago/view.php?nu=AAN08L_P03.076. Accessed May 1, 2008.

GlaxoSmithKline Invests in Resveratrol Research

For years Life Extension magazine has been reporting on the multiple health benefits of resveratrol. We have urged members to incorporate this vital nutrient into their personal life-extension program. Now, pharmaceutical companies see the financial potential of creating a prescription drug from resveratrol compounds in order to treat age-related disease. Recently, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline announced that it would acquire all outstanding shares of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals for $720 million in order to cash in on the life-extending promise of resveratrol-based compounds.1

Found in red grapes and wine, resveratrol has been credited with extending life span in a variety of organisms.2,3 Resveratrol mimics the life-extending properties of caloric restriction by activating enzymes called sirtuins, which influence a variety of aging-related metabolic functions.

Sirtris was founded in 2004 after Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School began publishing findings regarding resveratrol’s remarkable potential benefits.2 Sirtris’ stated goal is to discover and develop small molecules with anti-aging potential, and its research efforts have largely focused on enhancing the potency of resveratrol-based compounds.

GlaxoSmithKline evidently hopes to modify the resveratrol molecule to further bolster its bioavailability and effects. Such a modification would also allow the drug company to patent the new molecule and market it exclusively.

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

1. Available at: http://www.gsk.com/media/pressreleases/2008/2008_us_pressrelease_10038.htm. Accessed April 30, 2008.
2. Howitz KT, Bitterman KJ, Cohen HY, et al. Small molecule activators of sirtuins extend Saccharomyces cerevisiae lifespan. Nature. 2003 Sep 11;425(6954):191-6.
3. Baur JA, Pearson KJ, Price NL, et al. Resveratrol improves health and survival of mice on a high-calorie diet. Nature. 2006 Nov 16;444(7117):337-42.

Just One Cup of Green Tea Daily Halves Ovarian Cancer Risk

Green tea consumption may help prevent ovarian cancer in women, according to a recent study.* Because the disease is difficult to detect in its early, treatable stages, and a foolproof screening test is not widely available, an effective means of preventing the disease “remains the only feasible approach to reduce ovarian cancer mortality.”

Scientists evaluated the relationship between caffeine-containing beverages and ovarian cancer risk by comparing 781 women diagnosed with a primary invasive or borderline epithelial ovarian cancer and 1,263 women without the disease. Women who consumed one or more cups of green tea per day experienced a 54% reduction in ovarian cancer risk compared with those who did not drink green tea. Those who reported drinking an average of less than one cup per day experienced a smaller risk reduction.

“Green tea, which is commonly consumed in countries with low ovarian cancer incidence, should be further investigated for its cancer-prevention properties,” the authors concluded. It should be noted that most studies show more than one cup (or one-cup equivalency of green tea) is needed to protect against disease.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Song YJ, Kristal AR, Wicklund KG, Cushing-Haugen KL, Rossing MA. Coffee, tea, colas, and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Mar;17(3):712-6.

Hypertension is Associated With Poor Cognitive Performance in the Elderly

Uncontrolled elevated blood pressure is associated with worse cognitive function in the elderly, according to a large population-based study.*

Scientists studied a group of 6,163 men and women aged >60 years. For participants aged 60 to 74, severe hypertension was associated with the worst results on cognitive testing, whereas optimal blood pressure (<120/80 mmHg) was associated with the best cognitive performance. Statistical analysis revealed that a higher severity of hypertension was associated with worse cognitive function, particularly at ages 70 and older. When hypertension was present but was well controlled with medication or lifestyle, cognitive capability was nearly the same as in participants without hypertension.

Hypertension predisposes to stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. The authors therefore concluded, “Optimal control of blood pressure may be beneficial in attenuating the risk of cognitive decline as the population ages.”

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Obisesan TO, Obisesan OA, Martins S, et al. High blood pressure, hypertension, and high pulse pressure are associated with poorer cognitive function in persons aged 60 and older: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008 Mar;56(3):501-9.

Cod Liver Oil Reduces Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug Requirement

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis may be able to reduce their dose of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by adding cod liver oil to their daily regimen, according to the journal Rheumatology.*

Researchers enrolled 97 patients with rheumatoid arthritis undergoing NSAID treatment. Participants received a placebo or a daily dose of 10 grams of cod liver oil (providing 2.2 grams of omega-3 fats plus vitamins A, D, and E) for nine months.

After three months, the participants were instructed to gradually reduce their medication usage and to discontinue their drugs if possible. Among those who completed the full nine months of fish oil therapy, 59% successfully lowered their medication dose. They also experienced a modest improvement in pain symptoms compared with the placebo group.

“Fish oil supplementation should be considered in rheumatoid arthritis patients to help them reduce their NSAID intake in order to attenuate the risks of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular adverse events associated with these drugs,” the authors concluded.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Galarraga B, Ho M, Youssef HM, et al. Cod liver oil (n-3 fatty acids) as an non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug sparing agent in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2008 May;47(5):665-9.

Magnesium Deficiency Linked with Cellular Aging

Magnesium Deficiency Linked with Cellular Aging

Human cells grown in a magnesium-deficient environment undergo accelerated senescence (aging), according to a new report.* Magnesium inadequacy is estimated to affect half the US population and has been linked with aging-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, and some cancers.

Scientists cultured human fibroblasts (structural framework cells) in media containing varying amounts of magnesium. Cells grown in reduced-magnesium media appeared to undergo accelerated senescence. One of the most notable signs of accelerated aging was increased loss of telomere length compared with cells grown in normal-magnesium conditions. Malfunction of telomeres (DNA sequences that cap chromosomes) has been associated with aging and cancer.

Magnesium deficiency may promote cellular senescence by increasing the oxidative stress that damages telomeres. “We are now thinking that cellular consequences of magnesium deficiency may be driving long-term chronic disease,” the authors noted.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Available at: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0712401105v1. Accessed May 1, 2008.