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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine May, 1998

Medical Updates succinctly review studies that are of importance to those seeking an extended lifespan. The complete scientific abstracts for these studies are available as a special service to Life Extension Foundation members. If you read here about new studies you want to learn more about or want to show to your doctor, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the: Life Extension Foundation, P.O. Box 229120, Hollywood, Fla., 33022, USA.

Please enclose a small donation (minimum $1, please) to cover the costs of copying and processing. We will immediately send you the actual scientific abstract(s), with the names of the researchers and the address of the research institution so you can inquire about a new medical technology.

Click here to access the Complete Scientific Abstracts Online.

NAC Improves Pulmonary Function
  1. In a recent study of 18 patients in Germany, administration of NAC (N-acetylcysteine), a precursor of the vital antioxidant glutathione produced naturally in the body, was shown to raise body's levels of glutathione by 50%. It improved pulmonary function significantly in patients with Fibrosing Alveolitis, a disease characterized by excessive oxidative stress and low levels of the antioxidant, glutathione, in the lower airways. Levels of methionine sulfoxide, as an indicator of oxidative stress at the alveolar surface, correspondingly dropped. Dyspnea was reduced by about 50%. Serious adverse effects did not occur with use of the antioxidant. It was concluded that n-acetylcysteine should be considered as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of fibrosing alveolitis.
    Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1997;156:1897-1901.
    The ability of NAC to raise our body's levels of the vital antioxidant, glutathione, is why it is recommended that healthy individuals take at least 500 mg of NAC daily.

    Soy products, ginseng slow the growth of breast-cancer cells
  2. In a recent report at the annual meeting of the American Osteopathic Association, more scientific evidence confirming extensive scientific literature was presented on the health benefits of soy. Soy contains the important unique phytochemicals such as isoflavones, of which genistein and two others were tested. The findings add a new dimension to current knowledge about the link between diet and breast cancer. The benefits of soy based products include lowering the risk for many cancers (breast, prostate, etc,) lower LDL, and higher HDL cholesterol. Even better results were obtained with the use of a concentrated soy extract each day. In a laboratory study of human breast-cancer cells, high levels of isoflavones-dietary components found in soy-based products-hampered the growth of cancerous cells by as much as 30%. In a second laboratory study, it was found that traditional Chinese herbal remedies including ginseng and vitex berry extract also inhibited the growth of human breast-cancer cells. Because they are high in phyto-estrogens, isoflavones may help prevent breast cancer by reducing the levels of natural estrogen in the body, or by their antioxidant properties, that inhibits tumor development. It was suggested that women try to eat more soy products. It was predicted that phytoestrogens might, in the future, prove to be promising agents used to reduce the risk of breast cancer and other hormone-dependent cancers, such as prostate cancer.
    1997 Medical Tribune

    Heart Disease Deaths, Costs, On Rise
  3. Experts at the American Heart Association (AHA) say cardiovascular disease is claiming more lives and dollars with each passing year. They estimate that Americans will spend $15 billion more in 1998 on heart disease treatments than they did in 1997. They report that cardiovascular disease, the nation's number one killer, claimed 960,592 lives in 1995, the last year for which figures are available. Over 11,000 more people died from heart disease in 1995 than in the previous year. In the AHA report "1998 Heart and Stroke Statistical Update" recently released, experts estimate that the total cost of cardiovascular disease will reach $274.2 billion in 1998, up from $259.1 billion in 1997. Costs are rising for the following reasons, 1) as the population increases and ages, more people will be having heart attacks and strokes. And while we're developing new and better ways to treat these diseases, the treatments cost money." For example, the average cost of coronary artery bypass surgery was $44,820 in 1995. Over 573,000 of the procedures were performed that year -- an increase of 72,000 over 1994. 2) the lion's share of expenditure devoted to cardiovascular disease goes to hospital and nursing home care. The AHA predicts those costs will approach $120 billion in 1998, 3) payments to salaries of physicians and other health care professionals could add up to another $26 billion. 4) The lost worker productivity due to heart disease could cost the nation more than $100 billion in 1998. The AHA believes there's only one way to reverse current trends and that is to look at causes, or risk factors, and act to prevent disease." Major risk factors for heart disease include smoking, obesity, and high cholesterol levels. U.S. smoking rates have remained steady for the past few years at just over 25% of the adult population. Obesity may present an even tougher challenge. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are statistically obese (as defined by U.S. dietary guidelines), and that percentage continues to increase each year. Obese people are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors." Meanwhile, the AHA estimate that a full 37.7% of Americans suffer from dangerously high blood cholesterol levels. Cholesterol can build up on artery walls, raising the potential for both heart attack and stroke. Our nation can't afford not to prevent coronary atherosclerotic heart disease. Currently we have the tools to do so [proper diet, exercise, supplementation, relaxation, testing,] but it requires personal responsibility and motivation to achieve and maintain optimal health, in general, elements lacking in our society.
    Reuters News

    Hyperhomocysteinemia Linked To Microvascular Complications In Diabetics
  4. Elevated serum homocysteine levels are toxic to the lining of the blood vessels (endothelium.) This produces accelerated atherosclerosis and plaque formation. In a cross-sectional study involving 75 insulin-dependent diabetics and 40 healthy matched controls, the diabetics.showed a high prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia. The diabetics with elevated homocysteine levels also had significantly more macrovascular and microvascular complications of diabetes. In the December issue of Diabetes Care, the investigators theorized that a synergistic effect between advanced glycation end products and homocysteine could be the mechanism behind vascular cell damage in diabetics. They concluded that hyperhomocysteinemia might contribute to the increased morbidity and mortality from heart disease in diabetics.
    Diabetes Care 1997;20:1805-1806,1891-1885.
    Proper supplementation with folate, and vitamins B-6, B-12 is the only effective method to lower the levels of this vessel-damaging amino acid. Importantly, high homocysteine levels are thought to represent a higher risk than high cholesterol levels with regard to heart attacks and strokes. We should be sure we supplement with a multivitamin/mineral containing high enough doses of these homocysteine-lowering nutrients

    Monounsaturated Fats Cut Breast Cancer Risk
  5. Diets high in polyunsaturated fats, the type of fat contained in seafood and some types of vegetable oils, appear to increase a woman's risk of breast cancer by 69%. In a study conducted in Sweden, however, evidence was also found that diets high in monounsaturated fats, the type of fat contained in olive and canola oils, might actually reduce this risk. Sixty thousand Swedish women between the ages of 40 and 76 years. with no diagnosis of cancer completed a 67-item food frequency questionnaire. Over the course of a 4.2-year follow-up, 674 women developed invasive breast cancer. After adjusting for total calorie intake, no relationship between total fat intake and risk of invasive breast cancer was found. However, they calculated that for each 5-gram increment of polyunsaturated fat, the relative risk for invasive breast cancer increased by 69%. Conversely, for each 10-gram increment of monounsaturated fat, the relative risk for invasive breast cancer decreased by 45%. The researchers concluded "...various types of fat may have specific opposite effects on the risk of breast cancer that closely resemble the corresponding effects in experimental animals." If these findings can be reproduced, they "...could have profound public health implications." For example, many individuals who have trouble adhering to low fat diets may be more successful in decreasing levels of certain types of dietary fat.
    Archives of Internal Medicine (1998;158:41-45)

    Vitamins C, E Protect against Sunburn
  6. This study shows for the first time that systemic administration of vitamins C and E reduces the sunburn reaction in humans. The photoprotection by vitamins was particularly evident at UV doses well above the median. The results of this study are not unexpected, because ultraviolet light (an ionizing radiation) causes free radicals to form in the skin. The redness, pain, and inflammation of the skin is due in large part to overwhelming free radical formation. Antioxidant intake would be expected to sop up many of these excess damaging molecules. Such systemic photoprotection is convenient and could provide a desirable basic UV shield for the entire body surface. Citing evidence of the ineffectiveness of either vitamin C or E taken alone in protecting against UV radiation, the researchers cautioned that the shielding effect might depend on the combined intake of both vitamins.
    Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (1998;38:45-48)

    Kidney Failure Common after Heart Surgery
  7. Several studies have shown a significant degree of brain damage as well as depression after coronary bypass surgery, A new study suggests that coronary artery bypass surgery may result in serious and potentially fatal kidney problems. 7.7% of patients studied at 24 hospitals over two years developed serious kidney trouble after coronary bypass surgery. Kidney dysfunction and failure in these patients resulted in longer hospital stays and higher death rates following the surgery. Sixty-three percent of people who developed kidney failure later died, compared with 19% of people who developed renal dysfunction only. In contrast, less than 1% of those with normal kidney function died after heart surgery. Based on 600,000 coronary artery bypass graft procedures performed annually throughout the world, 12,000 will die in the hospital from kidney dysfunction. According to the study, five "patient-specific" factors prior to coronary bypass surgery could be linked to the increased risk of kidney trouble: 1) older age (70 to 95 years); 2) congestive heart failure (in which the heart's pumping efficiency is decreased); 3) previous heart surgery; 4) type 1 (or insulin-dependent) diabetes or a high blood sugar level before the operation; or 5) elevated creatinine levels in the blood. From these findings, the risk of kidney dysfunction and failure in-patients before heart surgery can be determined.
    Annals of Internal Medicine (1998;128:194-203)
    Our goal should be to use proper diet, exercise, and supplements to avoid ever needing this surgery.

    High Triglycerides Risk For Heart Attack
  8. A recent study indicates that high blood level of triglycerides -- the most common type of fat found in food -- is a strong risk factor for heart attack among middle-aged and elderly men, independent of other factors such as total cholesterol levels. Blood levels of triglycerides were analyzed for 2,906 white men, 53 to 74 years of age, with no history of heart disease. Over an 8-year follow-up period, 229 of the men had a first heart attack -- 163 survived, 66 died. Men with higher levels of triglycerides (obtained at the beginning of the study) appeared to be at greater risk, irrespective of their high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level, which is believed to play a protective role against heart disease. The highest risk of heart disease was in men who had blood triglyceride levels between 1.6 to 2.5 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). However, the risk appeared to decrease at higher triglyceride levels. This was true even though, in general, subjects with the highest triglyceride levels also had a high prevalence of other risk factors for heart attack, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. The researchers suggest that the decreased cardiac risk for men with a triglyceride level over 2.5 mmol/L may be because these men have lipoproteins in their blood that are less likely to cause arterial disease. It was concluded that blood triglyceride level was "a stronger risk factor than total cholesterol" and that such a test of blood triglyceride level taken after a patient had fasted "should be included in risk factor profiles".
    Circulation (1998;97:1027-1028, 1029-1036)
    Serum triglycerides can be lowered by consumption of omega-3 essential fatty acids (fatty fish or organic flaxoil), cutting alcohol consumption, and reducing simple carbohydrates in the diet. increasing dietary fiber, eating more protein, taking niacin supplements, and possibly supplements of chromium picolinate.

    Effects of garlic on human prostate carcinoma
  9. This study showed that naturally occurring garlic derivatives and synthetic cysteine compounds (that resemble garlic constituents) diminished the proliferative effects of human prostate carcinoma cells. This data provides further evidence that nonessential nutrients derived from garlic may modulate tumor growth. Further research is required on effects of garlic derivatives before development of effective nutritional strategies for preventing progression of prostate cancer.
    American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1997, Vol 66, Iss 2, pp 398-405

    Effect of Bromocriptine (Parlodel) on rat prostate
  10. Tissue changes occur in the prostate gland of rats following prolonged hormonal treatment. Dysplasia, a pre-tumor lesion, develops in rat prostates treated for 16 weeks with a combined regimen of testosterone and estradiol. This regimen also increases levels of prolactin in the blood. Bromocriptine co-treatment effectively inhibited the evolution of tumors (six out of eight rats) and the often-associated inflammation (five out of eight rats) in most animals. These data extend the many previous studies that have detailed marked influences of pituitary prolactin release on rat prostatic functions. However, the current study is the first to implicate pituitary prolactin release in prostatic pre-tumors.
    Carcinogenesis, 1997, Vol 18, Iss 8, pp 1505-1510

    Vitamin C enhances Natural Killer Cell activity
  11. After exposure to many toxic chemicals, Natural Killer Cell function can be decreased significantly. It sometimes takes weeks or months for natural killer function to rebound to normal levels. This study looked at the effect of buffered vitamin C on Natural Killer T and B cell function in patients who had been exposed to toxic chemicals. In 55 patients, vitamin C in high oral dose was capable of enhancing Natural Killer cell activity up to ten-fold in 78% of patients. Lymphocyte activity was restored to the normal level as a result of vitamin C usage. It was concluded that immune functional abnormalities can be restored after toxic chemical exposure by oral usage of vitamin C.
    Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology, 1997, Vol 19, Iss 3, pp 291 -312

    Dietary flavonoids and the risk of cancer
  12. The relation between the intake of antioxidant flavonoids and subsequent risk of cancer was studied among 9,959 Finnish men and women aged 15-99 years and initially cancer free. Food consumption covering the previous year was estimated by the dietary history method. During a follow-up in 1967-1991, 997 cancer cases and 151 lung cancer cases were diagnosed. An inverse association was observed between the intake of flavonoids and incidence of all sites of cancer combined. The association was strongest in persons under 50 years of age. Of the major dietary flavonoid sources, the consumption of apples showed an inverse association with lung cancer incidence. The results are in line with the hypothesis that flavonoid intake in some circumstances may be involved in the cancer process, resulting in lowered risks.
    American Journal of Epidemiology, 1997, Vol 146, Iss 3, pp 223-230

    Deprenyl's effects on behavior and brain function
  13. L-Deprenyl (selegiline) was chronically administered to rats beginning at 54 weeks of age (estimated daily dose: 0.5 mg/kg/day). Beginning at 84 weeks of age, the rats were behaviorally evaluated using a sensorimotor battery, a motor-learning task, and the Morris water maze. At 118 weeks of age, cerebellar noradrenergic function was evaluated in the surviving rats using in vivo electrochemistry. Brain monoamine oxidase activity was measured. The effect of chronic deprenyl treatment on beta-adrenergic receptors in the cerebellum, adrenergic receptors in several brain regions, and dopamine receptors in the striatum were evaluated. Deprenyl treatment reduced brain monoamine oxidase B activity by 85%. Several measures of central nervous system function were altered in the deprenyl- treated animals: 1) spatial learning was improved; 2) the responsiveness to the reuptake blocker nomifensine (antidepressant) was enhanced in the cerebellum; 3) beta-adrenergic receptor binding affinity was increased in the cerebellum; 4) adrenergic receptor density was increased; and 5) dopamine receptor density was reduced, but binding affinity was enhanced. In contrast, chronic deprenyl treatment did not cause changes in sensorimotor function, as evaluated by balance beam, inclined screen, or wire hang tasks and motor learning. Thus, long-term oral administration of deprenyl extended the functional life span of rats with respect to cognitive, but not motor, performance.
    Neurobiology of Aging, 1997, Vol 18, Iss 3, pp 309-318