Chronic systemic inflammation is an underlying cause of many seemingly unrelated, age-related diseases. As humans grow older, systemic inflammation can inflict devastating degenerative effects throughout the body (Ward 1995; McCarty 1999; Brod 2000). This fact is often overlooked by the medical establishment, yet persuasive scientific evidence exists that correcting a chronic inflammatory disorder will enable many of the infirmities of aging to be prevented or reversed.
The pathological consequences of inflammation are well-documented in the medical literature (Willard et al. 1999; Hogan et al. 2001). Regrettably, the dangers of systemic inflammation continue to be ignored, even though proven ways exist to reverse this process. By following specific prevention protocols suggested by the Life Extension Foundation, the inflammatory cascade can be significantly reduced.
A critical inflammatory marker is C-reactive protein. This marker indicates an increased risk for destabilized atherosclerotic plaque and abnormal arterial clotting. When arterial plaque becomes destabilized, it can burst open and block the flow of blood through a coronary artery, resulting in an acute heart attack. One of the New England Journal of Medicine studies showed that people with high levels of C-reactive protein were almost three times as likely to die from a heart attack (Ridker et al. 1997).
Those who are in relative good health, but have elevated C-reactive protein, can try to lower it using a variety of diet modifications, supplements and/or drugs. Supplements such as vitamin E, borage oil, fish oil, DHEA, vitamin K and nettle leaf extract can lower C-reactive protein. Diets low in arachidonic acid, omega-6 fatty acids, saturated fats, high-glycemic food and overcooked food can suppress inflammatory factors in the body.
If diet and supplements fail, drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, pentoxifylline or one of the statins (such as Pravachol®) should be tried. If the modified diet, nutrients and/or drugs lower C-reactive protein to below 1.3 (mg/L) of blood, then this is an indication that the underlying inflammatory fire has been extinguished. (The high-sensitivity C-reactive protein blood test is recommended to measure this indicator.)