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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine May 2011
In The News

Heart Disease Costs Expected to Triple by 2030

A statement by the American Heart Association claims that the costs of treating heart disease are expected to increase three-fold in the next twenty years, sparking an “enormous financial burden” for millions of Americans.*

“The burden of heart disease and stroke on the US health care system will be substantial and will limit our ability to care for the US population unless we can take steps now to prevent cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Paul Heidenreich, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford Medical School and chair of the American Heart Association panel issuing the policy statement.

In addition, American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a news release that “unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy environments have contributed to a tidal wave of risk factors among many Americans. Early intervention and evidence-based public policies are absolute musts to significantly reduce alarming rates of obesity, hypertension, tobacco use and cholesterol levels.”

Fortunately, there are a number of low-cost, high-value cardiovascular protective therapies that are available to potentially ward off this oncoming epidemic. Many of these are familiar to Life Extension readers, including keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which means eating a healthy diet, getting exercise and keeping your weight down. These strategies have been proven to substantially reduce the risk of heart disease.

—J. Finkel

Reference

* http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_108025.html. Accessed February 21, 2011.

Basis for Broccoli’s Cancer-Fighting Ability Revealed

Basis for Broccoli’s Cancer-Fighting Ability Revealed

A recent report in the American Cancer Society’s Journal of Medicinal Chemistry brings to light the discovery of a potential biochemical basis for broccoli’s perceived ability to fight cancer.* For the first time, scientists uncovered that certain substances in the vegetable target and block one of the defective genes associated with cancer.

Substances called isothiocyanates (ITCs), found in broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, and other cruciferous vegetables, appear to stop the growth of cancer. For many years, scientists weren’t sure how this substance worked, but Fung-Lung Chung and colleagues showed in experiments that the tumor suppressor gene p53 appears to play a key role in keeping cells healthy and preventing them from mutating into cancer cells.

The study involved observing the effects of certain naturally occurring ITCs on several cancer cells, including colon cancer, breast cancer, and lung cancer. The scientists believe that drugs based on natural or custom-engineered ITCs could improve the effectiveness of existing cancer treatments or lead to new strategies for fighting and preventing the insidious disease.

Editor’s Note: To get these anti-cancer compounds in broccoli, it should be lightly steamed. Raw broccoli can bind these compounds and heavily cooked broccoli destroys most of them.

—J. Finkel

Reference

* http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jm101199t. Accessed February 7, 2011.

Consuming More Flavonoid-Rich Foods Could Offer Protection Against Parkinson’s

The results of a study reported at the American Academy of Neurology’s 63rd Annual Meeting suggest that eating more foods that contain high amounts of flavonoids could help protect against the development of Parkinson’s disease.*

Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, and colleagues evaluated data from 49,281 men enrolled in the Health Professional Follow-up Study and 80,336 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study.

Men whose intake of flavonoids was among the top 20% of participants had a 40% lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease compared to men whose intake was among the lowest 20%. While no significant association with total flavonoid intake was observed for women, a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease was observed in association with greater intake of anthocyanins and anthocyanin-rich foods among both women and men.

“Our findings suggest that flavonoids, specifically a group called anthocyanins, may have neuroprotective effects,” Dr. Gao concluded.

Editor’s note: Flavonoids are a class of compounds that include flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonols, flavones, and polymers, and are abundant in berries, tea, and other plant foods.

—D. Dye

Reference

* American Academy of Neurology’s 63rd Annual Meeting, April, 2011.

More Fiber Intake Associated with Lower Risk of Death Over Nine-Year Period

More Fiber Intake Associated with Lower Risk of Death Over Nine-Year Period

An article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reveals the outcome of a study that found a lower risk of dying over a nine year average follow-up period among men and women who consumed a high fiber diet.*

Yikyung Park, ScD, and associates evaluated data from 219,123 men and 168,999 women enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. Over a nine-year average, there were 20,126 deaths among the men and 11,330 among the women participating in the study. Subjects whose intake of fiber was among the top 20% of participants at 29.4 grams per day for men and 25.8 grams for women had a 22% lower risk of dying than those who consumed the least amount.

The authors concluded that “A diet rich in dietary fiber from whole plant foods may provide significant health benefits.”

Editor’s note: When fiber intake was analyzed according to its source, fiber from grain was associated with a reduction of death from all causes as well as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Arch Intern Med. 2011 Feb 14.

Review Concludes Effectiveness of Zinc Against Common Cold

Review Concludes Effectiveness of Zinc Against Common Cold

The results of a meta-analysis published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews reveal that supplementing with zinc reduces the severity of common cold symptoms as well as the length of colds.*

Dr. Meenu Singh and colleagues reviewed 13 trials that evaluated five or more days of zinc supplementation as a treatment for cold in a total of 966 participants, and two trials that tested zinc supplements as a cold preventive among 394 participants. They concluded that zinc preparations including syrup or lozenges initiated within one day of symptom onset decreased the severity and length of the common cold. As a preventive, five months of treatment with zinc syrup or lozenges in children resulted in 36% fewer colds and less time lost from school compared to those who did not use zinc. The study included several kinds of zinc, including zinc gluconate or zinc acetate lozenges and zinc sulfate syrup.

Editor’s note: Dr. Singh remarked that, “It would be interesting to find out whether zinc supplementation could help asthmatics, whose asthma symptoms tend to get worse when they catch a cold.” For zinc to be effective when cold symptoms manifest, it should be in a form (lozenges or syrup) that has direct contact with the throat. While zinc in capsule or tablet form can help boost immune function, it seems to kill viruses in the back of the throat by direct contact.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Feb 16;2:CD001364.

Researchers Recommend Greater Intake of Vitamin D to Lower the Risk of Serious Diseases

Pomegranate May Help Prevent Prostate Cancer Metastasis

Cedric Garland, DrPH, of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and his colleagues recently revealed that significantly higher amounts of vitamin D than what are currently recommended are needed to raise levels to those that help prevent breast cancer and other diseases. The findings appear in the journal Anticancer Research.*

Dr. Garland and his associates analyzed data from a survey of 3,667 men and women whose average age was 51. The researchers compared supplemental vitamin D intake reported at the beginning of the study with baseline serum vitamin D levels. “We found that daily intakes of vitamin D by adults in the range of 4,000-8,000 IU are needed to maintain blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the range needed to reduce by about half the risk of several diseases ­—­breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes,” Dr. Garland stated.

Editor’s note: Dr. Garland remarked that 4,000 IU vitamin D per day, “is comfortably under the 10,000 IU/day that the IOM Committee Report considers as the lower limit of risk.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Anticancer Res. 2001;31(2):607-11.

More Americans Are Using Supplements

More Americans Are Using Supplements

A report published in the Journal of Nutrition reveals widespread use of dietary supplements among Americans, particularly among older individuals.*

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements and the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention utilized data obtained from 18,758 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2006. Infants under the age of one were excluded.

Forty-four percent of males and 53% of females reported using supplements, which is an increase from the percentages reported in earlier NHANES surveys beginning in 1971. For those aged 71 and older, supplement use was reported by 70%. Multivitamin/mineral formulas were the most common form of supplementation. While 56% of those of normal weight were supplement users, this number declined to 48% among those who were obese, a finding that is consistent with that of other analyses.

Editor’s note: The authors conclude that, “Given the widespread use of supplements, data should be included with nutrient intakes from foods to correctly determine total nutrient exposure.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* J Nutr. 2011 Feb; 141(2):261-6.

Vitamin D Deficiency Impairs Lung Development

Vitamin D Deficiency Impairs Lung Development

A report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine describes an association between vitamin D deficiency in mice and reduced lung structure and function.*

Graeme Zosky, PhD, and colleagues compared lung responses of two-week-old mice born to mothers that were deficient or replete in vitamin D. They found a reduction in lung volume in the absence of a significant decrease in body length and weight, accompanied by functional deficits not entirely explained by the observed reduction in the volume of the lungs of animals in the vitamin deficient group.

“For the first time, we have demonstrated a direct role for vitamin D in causing decreased lung function in the absence of known confounders such as physical inactivity, confirming the assertion by epidemiological studies that there is a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and lung function,” Dr. Zosky announced.

Editor’s note: “The differences we observed in lung volume and lung mechanics, which were substantial and physiologically relevant, raise serious concerns regarding the increased prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in communities around the world,” Dr. Zosky commented.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Am J Resp Critical Care Med. 2011 Jan 28.

Free Radicals Implicated in Common Eye Disease

Free Radicals Implicated in Common Eye Disease

The American Journal of Pathology reported the outcome of research conducted by Ula V. Jurkunas, MD, and colleagues that implicates free radical damage in the development of Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD), a potentially blinding disease characterized by the programmed cell death of epithelial cells in the eye’s cornea.*

Dr. Jurkunas and her associates compared corneal epithelial tissue samples from FECD patients who received corneal transplants to samples derived from subjects who did not have the disease. They discovered a reduction in the level of antioxidants in the majority of FECD specimens and increased DNA damage.

“Our discovery is significant, because it gives us the first hope for slowing the progression of the disease,” stated Dr. Jurkunas. “If we can identify how free radicals are involved in this and what antioxidants can fight them, we can create a regimen that can help protect the cornea.”

Editor’s note: In addition to supplementing with a multivitamin, Dr. Jurkunas suggests that patients at risk for the disease consume more leafy green vegetables and wear ultraviolet protection.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Am J Path. 2010 Nov;177(5):2278-89.

Lifestyle Beats Genes in Longevity Race

Lifestyle Beats Genes in Longevity Race

An article published in the Journal of Internal Medicine reveals that our own actions may be more important in dictating how long we live than inherited factors.*

For the current investigation, Lars Wilhelmsen and colleagues at the University of Gothenburg evaluated data from the 1913 Men Epidemiological Study, which enrolled 855 fifty-year-old men in 1963. Subjects provided anthropomorphic, parental, and lifestyle data, and were examined for cardiovascular health and other functions.

Thirteen percent of the participants were still living at 90 years of age. These survivors were likelier at age 50 to be nonsmokers, drink moderate amounts of coffee, have higher socio-economic status and have lower serum cholesterol levels compared with men who failed to reach this age, yet the number of years attained by the men’s parents did not appear to influence their own longevity.

Editor’s note: “The study clearly shows that we can influence several of the factors that decide how old we get,” Dr. Wilhelmsen commented. “This is positive not only for the individual, but also for society as it doesn’t entail any major drug costs.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* J Int Med. 2010 Dec 22.

Higher Vitamin D Levels Equal Lower Risk of Multiple Sclerosis

The journal Neurology reports a protective effect for high vitamin D levels and sun exposure against the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).*

Robyn Lucas, PhD, of Australian National University and colleagues compared 216 men and women who had experienced their first event to 395 individuals who had no symptoms of the disease. The subjects were matched for age, gender, and region of residence. Dr. Lucas’ team discovered that the risk of having a first demyelinating event, which was estimated to be between two to nine cases per 100,000 people per year, was reduced by 30% for every 1,000 kilojoule increase in ultraviolet light exposure. Additionally, those with the most sun damage to their skin were 60% less likely to have a first event compared to participants with the least damage. Having a high level of serum vitamin D also proved to be protective.

Editor’s note: Despite the study’s finding concerning the protective benefit of sun exposure, Dr. Lucas cautioned that sunbathing and tanning beds have risks that outweigh their benefits, and sun exposure has not been shown to help people who already have multiple sclerosis. “Further research should evaluate both sun exposure and vitamin D for the prevention of MS,” she said.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Neurol. 2011 Feb 8; 76(6):540-8.