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.
Scientists have identified dietary supplements and prescription drugs that can reduce levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines. The docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fraction of fish oil is the best documented supplement to suppress tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a), IL-6, IL-1(b), and IL-8 (Jeyarajah et al. 1999; James et al. 2000; Watanabe et al. 2000; Yano et al. 2000). A study on healthy humans and those with rheumatoid disease shows that fish oil suppresses these dangerous cytokines by up to 90% (James et al. 2000).
Other cytokine-lowering supplements are DHEA (Casson et al. 1993), vitamin K (Reddi et al. 1995; Weber 1997), GLA (gamma linolenic acid) (Purasiri et al. 1994), and nettle leaf extract (Teucher et al. 1996). Antioxidants, such as vitamin E (Devaraj et al. 2000) and N-acetyl-cysteine (Gosset et al. 1999), may also lower pro-inflammatory cytokines and protect against their toxic effects.
Excess IL-6 and other inflammatory cytokines attack bone and promote the formation of fibrinogen that can induce a heart attack or stroke (di Minno et al. 1992). To prevent and treat the multiple diseases of aging, it is critical to keep these destructive immune chemicals (cytokines) in safe ranges.
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