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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine June 2011
In The News

Milestone Study To Look At Genetic Effects of Caloric Restriction

Scientists from the University of California at San Francisco, Stanford, and the Buck Institute for Age Research are teaming up to study whether calorically restricted humans manifest the same age-slowing signaling seen in calorically restricted animals.*

The scientists wonder if humans on caloric restriction show the same benefits as animals, given many differences in genetics and the important role of lifestyle in human health. Finding the answer to this question prompted Dr. A. Janet Tomiyama at UCSF to organize some of the world’s greatest scientists to join the exploration. The team includes: Nobel Prize-winning telomere researcher Elizabeth Blackburn (UCSF), Anne Brunet (Dept. of Genetics, Stanford), Elissa Epel (Psychiatry, UCSF), Pankaj Kapahi (Buck Institute for Age Research), Cynthia Kenyon, (Biophysics and Biochemistry, UCSF), Jue Lin (Biochemistry & Biophysics, UCSF), and Eric Verdin (Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology at UCSF).

Paul McGlothin and Meredith Averill, of The CR Way Longevity Center, are helping the scientists identify people on long-term caloric restriction and sharing their insights into human caloric restriction practice, dietary regimens that support the biochemistry of caloric restriction, and identification of the world’s healthiest caloric restrictors who will converge on San Francisco—a city appropriately famous for health consciousness—for testing.

—J. Finkel

Reference

* http://tinyurl.com/CRONA-2010.

Apple Polyphenols Extend Life Span in Fruit Fly Experiment

Apple Polyphenols Extend Life Span in Fruit Fly Experiment

A recent issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported that the administration of apple polyphenols to fruit flies resulted in longer average life span and the increased expression of genes involved in the production of antioxidant enzymes.*

Zhen-Yu Chen and colleagues evaluated apple polyphenols’ effects on fruit flies, a common test subject in longevity experiments. Treatment with the polyphenols extended the insects’ average life span by 10% and prolonged their ability to walk and climb. Apple polyphenols also reversed markers of aging and imminent death, while upregulating the genes for superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), SOD2, and catalase.

The study, which is the first to associate an extension of life span with consumption of apples, adds evidence to the benefits revealed in other investigations, including a study that found a decrease in heart disease risk in women who consumed the fruit.

Editor’s note: Flies in which the genes for superoxide dismutase and catalase were knocked out failed to experience prolonged survival, indicating that apple polyphenols’ life-extending mechanism is at least partly mediated by its action on these genes.

—D. Dye

Reference

* J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Mar 9;59(5):2097-106.

Study Finds Coffee Drinkers Have Fewer Strokes

An article published in the journal Stroke reveals the results of a study of Swedish women that found a lower risk of stroke in those who consumed coffee.*

Susanna Larsson, PhD, and her associates evaluated data from 34,670 women enrolled in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. The women were followed for ten years, during which 1,310 ischemic strokes, 154 intracerebral hemorrhages, 79 subarachnoid hemorrhages, and 137 unspecified strokes occurred.

The researchers found a 22-25% lower adjusted risk of total stroke, cerebral infarction, and subarachnoid hemorrhage among women who drank at least one cup of coffee per day compared with those who consumed less.

“To our knowledge, only one previous prospective study has assessed the association between coffee consumption and the incidence of stroke among healthy women,” the authors write. “Given that coffee is one of the most popular beverages consumed worldwide, even small health effects of substances in coffee may have large public health consequences.”

Editor’s note: The dietary questionnaires completed by the participants did not differentiate between regular or decaffeinated coffee, however, the authors note that decaffeinated coffee consumption is uncommon in Sweden.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Stroke. 2011 Mar 10.

Dietary Supplement Use Common Among Specialists

Dietary Supplement Use Common Among Specialists

Results of a survey reported in Nutrition Journal reveal that the use of nutritional supplements is common among specialist physicians, and that they frequently recommend them to their patients.*

The Healthcare Professionals Impact Study surveyed 300 cardiologists, 300 dermatologists, and 300 orthopedic surgeons concerning the type of supplements used and recommended. Fifty-seven percent of cardiologists, 75% of dermatologists, and 73% of orthopedists reported personal use, and supplements were recommended to patients by 72, 66, and 91% of these specialists, respectively. Half of the physicians on average reported using multivitamins, with dermatologists leading the group. Omega-3 and fish oil supplements and botanicals including green tea were also commonly used.

The study contributes to previous findings which determined that physicians and nurses engaged in regular use of supplements in a manner similar to that of the general public and that the majority recommended them to their patients.

Editor’s note: Reasons given for recommending supplements to patients were dependent upon the physician’s specialty, including the recommendation of cholesterol-reducing supplements by cardiologists and bone-building nutrients by orthopedists.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Nutr J. 2011 Mar 3;10:20.

Vitamin D Insufficiency Could Play a Role in the Development of Parkinson’s Disease

Vitamin D Insufficiency Could Play a Role in the Development of Parkinson’s Disease

In the Archives of Neurology, researchers report the finding of a correlation between insufficient levels of vitamin D and the development of early Parkinson’s disease (PD).*

The study included 157 placebo recipients who participated in the DATATOP trial of men and women with early Parkinson’s disease. Blood samples obtained upon enrollment and at the final visit after 13 months were analyzed for 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

While 69.4% had vitamin D insufficiency at the beginning of the study, 26.1% were classified as deficient with levels of less than 20 ng/mL. The prevalence of insufficiency at the final visit was 51.6%, and deficiency occurred in 7%.

“We confirm a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in patients with recent onset of PD, during the early clinical stages in which patients do not require symptomatic therapy,” the authors conclude.

Editor’s note: The authors remarked that, “Contrary to our expectation that vitamin D levels might decrease over time because of disease-related inactivity and reduced sun exposure, vitamin D levels increased over the study period. These findings are consistent with the possibility that long-term insufficiency is present before the clinical manifestations of Parkinson’s disease and may play a role in the pathogenesis of PD.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Arch Neurol. 2011 Mar;68(3):314-9.

Long-Term Vitamin E Supplementation Associated with Reduced Risk of ALS

Long-Term Vitamin E Supplementation Associated with Reduced Risk of ALS

The American Journal of Epidemiology published the results of an analysis of over a million men and women that concluded supplementing with vitamin E is associated with a reduction in the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive, fatal neurologic disease.*

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health pooled data from five large studies for their review. Over the studies’ follow-up periods, which ranged from 10 to 18 years, 805 cases of ALS were diagnosed.

A 23% reduction in the risk of the disease was found among those who used vitamin E supplements for two to four years and a 36% reduction occurred among those who used the supplements for five years or more, compared to those who did not supplement. For those whose vitamin E from diet was among the top 25% of participants, a 21% lower adjusted risk of ALS was noted.

Editor’s note: This is the largest study to date to have examined the association between dietary and supplemental vitamin E intake and ALS.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Mar 15;173(6):595-602.

Short Telomeres Linked with Increased Mortality Risk Over Six-Year Period

The Journal of Gerontology: Biological and Medical Sciences reports the finding of Annette L. Fitzpatrick of the University of Washington and her colleagues of an association between shorter telomere length and an increased risk of dying over 6.1 years of follow-up.*

The current study included 1,136 participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study of adults aged 65 and older. Blood samples obtained upon enrollment between 1992 and 1993 were analyzed for leukocyte telomere length. Cause was ascertained for 468 deaths that occurred over 6.1 years of follow-up.

Adjusted analysis of the data found that subjects whose telomeres were among the shortest 25% of participants had a 60% greater risk of dying over follow-up, compared with those whose telomeres were among the longest 25%. When deaths were analyzed by cause, infectious disease emerged as significantly associated with shorter telomeres, while cardiac arrhythmia was shown to have a weaker association.

Editor’s note: The authors explain that, “Data strongly suggest that erosion of telomeres is the result of an accruing burden of oxidative stress and inflammation, which is known to be enhanced by exposure to infectious and inflammatory diseases. The significant relationship between leukocyte telomere length and interleukin-6, a biomarker of inflammation, found here and in our earlier study, supports this finding.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Mar 15;173(6):595-602.