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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine December 2011
In The News

Meta-Analysis Affirms Protective Effect for Magnesium Against Diabetes

Meta-Analysis Affirms Protective Effect for Magnesium Against Diabetes

The results of a meta-analysis published in the journal Diabetes Care found a significantly reduced risk of type 2 diabetes among men and women whose intake of magnesium was high compared to those with a lower intake.*

Researchers at Soochow University in China and the University of North Carolina reviewed 13 prospective studies that included a total of 536,318 participants. Study follow-up periods ranged from four to twenty years, during which 24,516 cases of diabetes were diagnosed.

A 22% lower risk of diabetes was found for those whose intake was highest compared to those whose consumption of the mineral was lowest. Each 100 milligram-per-day increase in magnesium was associated with a 14% lower risk of developing the disease. Further analysis revealed a more pronounced effect for the mineral among those whose body mass index was more than 25 kg/m2.

Editor's Note: "It is plausible that high magnesium intake may have greater effects on improving insulin sensitivity in overweight individuals who are prone to insulin resistance," Jia-Yi Dong and colleagues remark.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Diabetes Care. 2011 Sep; 34:2116-22.

Higher Lignan Levels Improve Breast Cancer Survival

Higher Lignan Levels Improve Breast Cancer Survival

In an article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, German researchers report that high serum levels of enterolactone, a biomarker of lignan intake, are associated with a significantly greater chance of surviving postmenopausal breast cancer in comparison with having low levels.* Lignans are phytoestrogen compounds found in flax, Norway spruce (Picea abies) and other plants. These compounds are converted in the colon to enterolactone, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream.

Serum enterolactone levels were measured in blood samples obtained from 1,140 postmenopausal women with breast cancer. Incidences of metastasis or patient death were documented over a 6.1 year median follow-up period.

One hundred sixty-two deaths occurred over follow-up. Women whose enterolactone levels were among the top 25% of participants had a 42% lower risk of dying over follow-up compared to those whose levels were among the lowest fourth. Subjects whose lignan intake was highest experienced a similarly reduced risk of undergoing metastasis.

Editor's Note: Further analysis determined a protective effect for enterolactone on estrogen receptor-negative tumors as opposed to those which were receptor-positive.

—D. Dye

Reference

* J Clin Oncol. 2011 Sep 6.

Chondroitin Sulfate Improves Hand Arthritis in Clinical Trial

Chondroitin Sulfate Improves Hand Arthritis in Clinical Trial

In an article published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, Swiss researchers report the results of a trial that uncovered a benefit for supplementation with chondroitin sulfate in men and women with osteoarthritis of the hand.*

The Finger osteoArthritis Chondroitin Treatment Study enrolled 162 patients with osteoarthritis verified by X-ray, visual, and functional evaluation. Cem Gabay, MD, and his associates divided the participants to receive 800 milligrams chondroitin sulfate or a placebo daily for six months. At the end of the treatment period, subjects who received chondroitin sulfate had less hand pain, improved hand function, and less morning stiffness compared to the placebo group.

"Our findings show chondroitin sulfate is a safe and effective treatment for patients with hand osteoarthritis," Dr. Gabay concluded. "Alternative therapies, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, provide similar pain reducing effects, but with considerably more long-term toxicities."

Editor's Note: Chondroitin sulfate is a component of joint cartilage and is available as a prescription drug in Europe. The compound is available as an over-the-counter supplement in the United States.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Arthritis Rheum. 2011 Sep 6.

Review Finds Effectiveness for Non-Drug Therapies in Hypertension

A review published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension concludes that lifestyle interventions such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, as well as nutritional supplements including coenzyme Q10 and potassium, are viable alternatives to drugs prescribed to help lower blood pressure.*

Kevin J. Woolf, MD, and John D. Bisognano, MD, PhD, discuss the value of the low-sodium DASH diet, which provides greater amounts of fruit and vegetables and less fat than the average Western diet. Limiting smoking and alcohol consumption may also help reduce high blood pressure.

Possible antihypertensive dietary supplements mentioned in the review included potassium, calcium, vitamin D, folate, CoQ10, soy protein, flavonoids, fish oil, and garlic. Herbal supplements discussed included forskolin, mistletoe, and hawthorn. The authors also described devices such as the Rheos device, the Symplicity® catheter, the RESPeRATE device, and the Zona Plus dynamometer, which could be used by some patients in lieu of drug treatments.

Editor's Note: Dr. Woolf observed that, "Coenzyme Q10 has a pretty profound effect on blood pressure," an observation that reflects the findings of a recent meta-analysis.

Second editor's note: Life Extension® reiterates its longstanding recommendation for most people to target 24-hour blood pressure readings around 115/75 mmHg. If lifestyle changes and supplements fail to achieve optimal blood pressure readings of approximately 115/75, then anti-hypertensive medications are strongly suggested.

—D. Dye

Reference

* J Clin Hyperten. 2011 Aug 25.

Curcumin Shows Promise in Reducing Head and Neck Tumor Growth

Curcumin Shows Promise in Reducing Head and Neck Tumor Growth

The journal Clinical Cancer Research published the outcome of a study conducted by researchers at UCLA that demonstrated a potential for curcumin, a compound that occurs in the spice turmeric, to suppress a pathway involved in head and neck cancer growth.*

Marilene Wang and her associates tested the effects of curcumin in a study involving 21 patients with head and neck cancers. Prior to and immediately after chewing tablets that provided 1,000 milligrams curcumin, the subjects provided saliva samples that were analyzed for proinflammatory cytokines that fuel cancer growth. Samples obtained one hour later were evaluated for the activity of IKKB kinase, an enzyme involved in inflammation that activates nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kB), which increases cancer growth.

Dr. Wang and colleagues found a reduction in salivary proinflammatory cytokines as well as inhibition of the cell signaling pathway involving IKKB kinase following administration of curcumin.

Editor's Note: Dr. Wang noted that the amount of curcumin necessary to elicit a response is much greater than that which would be found in food that has been flavored with turmeric.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Sep 15;17(18):5953-61.

Doubling Vitamin D Level Could Add Two Years to Life Expectancy

Doubling Vitamin D Level Could Add Two Years to Life Expectancy

In the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, W. B. Grant of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco concludes that doubling one's serum level of vitamin D might increase life expectancy by an average of two years.*

Dr. Grant utilized epidemiologic studies, randomized controlled clinical trials and meta-analyses for his review. He calculated that increasing serum vitamin D from 22 to 44 ng/mL (or 54 to 110 nanomoles per liter) would lower the mortality rates of diseases that are sensitive to vitamin D by approximately 20%. When deaths from all causes over a given period were considered, doubling vitamin D would result in 7.6% fewer deaths for African females and 17.3% fewer deaths among European females, with males having reductions that averaged 0.6% less than these amounts. The total increase in life expectancy associated with doubling the population's vitamin D level averaged two years.

Editor's Note: Dr. Grant listed several ways to raise serum vitamin D, including food fortification, supplementation, and increased ultraviolet B exposure. Life Extension has recommended that members keep their serum vitamin D (measured as 25-hydroxyvitamin D) levels above 50 ng/mL, which may confer a greater longevity-boosting effect.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Sep;65(9):1016-26.

Current Vitamin D Recommendations Inadequate for African-Americans and Others

The results of a study reported at the American Association of Cancer Research's Fourth Annual Health Disparities Conference reveal a need for vitamin D among African-Americans that is far greater than the current recommendation of 600 international units per day.*

Adam Murphy, MD, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, along with Rick Kittles, MD, of the University of Illinois, analyzed serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of 492 men aged 40 to 79 who resided in the Chicago area. Skin melanin levels, sun exposure and vitamin D intake were determined, and body mass index was calculated.

Sixty-three percent of African-American men were found to be deficient in vitamin D, with levels of less than 20 nanograms per milliliter, in contrast with 18% of the Caucasian participants. In addition to African heritage, having a high body mass index and failing to supplement with the vitamin were associated with deficiency.

Editor's Note: Dr. Murphy recommended that men increase their level of vitamin D supplementation if they live in the northern third of the United States "From Northern California all the way to Virginia."

—D. Dye

Reference

* American Association of Cancer Research's Fourth Annual Health Disparities Conference, September 18-21, 2011, Washington, D.C.

Poor Vitamin B12 Status Impacts Brain Volume and Function

A recent issue of Neurology reveals an association between unfavorable serum markers of vitamin B12 status and reduced brain volume and cognitive function.*

The current investigation by Dr. Tangney was limited to 121 participants in the Chicago Health and Aging Project who had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of their brains performed several years after undergoing tests of cognitive function. The tests included measures of episodic memory, visuospatial ability or perceptual organization, perceptual speed, semantic memory, and working memory. Stored serum samples were analyzed for vitamin B12 and the vitamin B12 markers methylmalonic acid (MMA), 2-methylcitric acid, homocysteine, and cystathionine (generated from homocysteine).

While serum vitamin B12 itself was not associated with cognitive function or measures of brain volume, other indicators of vitamin B12 insufficiency were associated with poor global cognitive test scores and a decrease in brain volume revealed by MRI findings, compared to those with better B12 status.

Editor's Note: "Findings from a British trial with B vitamin supplementation are also supportive of these outcomes," Dr. Tangney remarked.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Neurol. 2009 Jan 27;72(4):361-7.

Americans Lacking in Effort to Cut Hypertension, Cholesterol

Americans Lacking in Effort to Cut Hypertension, Cholesterol

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control states that about two-thirds of adults in the United States who have high cholesterol levels and almost half who have high blood pressure are not being treated as effectively as they should be.*

Bill Hendricks of WebMD Health News summarizes the report by stating that more than 80% of people whose blood pressure or LDL "bad" cholesterol is not under control have either private or public health insurance, indicating that a lack in vigilance and effort may contribute to countless unnecessary deaths.

Heart attacks, strokes, and related vascular diseases kill more than 800,000 Americans annually, more than any other condition. Of those, 150,000 are younger than age 65.

CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, says that tens of thousands of lives could be saved with simple, low-cost treatments to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

"Although we're making some progress, the United States is failing to prevent the leading cause of death—cardiovascular disease—despite the existence of low cost, highly effective treatments," Frieden says in a news release. "We need to do a better job of improving care and supporting patients to prevent avoidable illness, disability, and death."

—J. Finkel

Reference

* Available at: http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/news/20110201/cholesterol. Accessed September 27, 2011.

Shark Molecule May Wipe Out Human Liver Viruses

A recent article featured on LiveScience.com covers research done by Michael Zasloff, of the Georgetown University Medical Center, that may prove that certain shark molecules can aid in wiping out certain serious liver diseases like hepatitis.*

Zasloff discovered the molecule, squalamine, in 1993 in the dogfish shark, a small- to medium-size shark found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Staff writer Jennifer Welsh interviewed Zasloff for the piece, and he stated that, "Sharks are remarkably resistant to viruses." He further explained that the compound the researchers discovered is a potent antibacterial and has shown efficacy in treating human cancers and an eye condition known as macular degeneration, which causes blindness. Past research has also uncovered that certain sharks also contain a number of other squalamine-like molecules that may have significant health benefits for humans.

"I believe that each of those compounds renders those tissues resistant and the day will come when we will be in a position to administer a compound to a human being and render certain organs selectively resistant against particular viruses," Zasloff explained.

Editor's Note: Life Extension® has been discussing the anti-bacterial and potential anti-cancer effects of shark liver oil for more than a decade. Life Extension members have used Norwegian shark liver oil for members who want to attain these benefits.

—J. Finkel

Reference

* Available at: http://www.livescience.com/16126-shark-molecule-kills-viruses.html. Accessed September 27, 2011.