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Chronic Inflammation

The Epidemic Disease of Aging

January 2002

By William Faloon

Protecting Against Inflammatory-Related Disease

The New England Journal of Medicine published several studies in year 2000 61 showing that the blood indicators of inflammation are strong predictive factors for determining who will suffer a heart attack. In the January 2001 issue of Life Extension magazine, we described these studies and told members how they could protect themselves against these inflammatory markers (such as C-reactive protein, homocysteine and fibrinogen).

A growing consensus amongst scientists is that common disorders such as atherosclerosis, colon cancer and Alzheimer’s disease are all caused in part by a chronic inflammatory syndrome.

Supplements used by most Life Extension members appear to suppress these dangerous inflammatory components of blood.

One of the inflammatory markers the New England Journal of Medicine identified is a protein called fibrinogen. High fibrinogen levels can induce a heart attack via several mechanisms, including increased platelet aggregation, hyper-coagulation and excessive blood thickening. The New England Journal of Medicine studies showed that those with high levels of fibrinogen were more than twice as likely to die of a heart attack.

Another inflammatory marker reported on was 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.

With the availability of cytokine blood profile tests, it is now possible to ascertain the underlying cause of chronic inflammatory disease. The appropriate drugs, nutrients, dietary change(s) and/or hormones can then be used to suppress the specific cytokines (such as TNF-á or IL-6) that are promoting the inflammatory cascade.

In the first addendum that appears after this article, we discuss dietary modifications that can also help suppress pro-inflammatory factors in the body.

Numerous studies show that pentoxifylline (PTX) is a potent inhibitor of TNF-a, IL-1(b), IL-6 and other pro-inflammatory cytokines.62-69 A similar number of studies show that DHA fish oil suppresses these same cytokines.23-30, 31-32 In people suffering from a chronic disease involving elevated levels of the inflammatory cytokines, the daily administration of 400 mg to 800 mg of PTX and/or 1000 mg to 2000 mg of DHA fish oil could be of enormous benefit.

We have previously published information showing that cytokine-suppressing nutrients such as fish oil and nettle leaf prevent and treat a wide range of diseases. In the second addendum that appears at the end of this editorial, we review studies that substantiate the potential off-label benefits of PTX in protecting against inflammatory cytokine-induced diseases.

Diseases Related To Chronic Inflammation

Seemingly unrelated diseases have a common link. People suffering from multiple degenerative disorders often exhibit excess levels of pro-inflammatory markers in their blood. Here is a partial list of common medical problems associated with chronic inflammation:



Cancer Chronic inflammation causes most cancers
Heart Attack Chronic inflammation contributes to coronary atherosclerosis
Alzheimer's disease Chronic inflammation destroys brain cells
Congestive Heart Failure Chronic inflammation causes heart muscle wasting
Stroke Chronic inflammation promotes thrombo-embolic events
Arthritis Inflammatory cytokines destroy joint cartilage and synovial fluid
Aortic Valve Stenosis Chronic inflammation damages heart valves
Kidney failure Inflammatory cytokines restrict circulation and damage nephrons
Lupus Inflammatory cytokines induce an autoimmune attack
Asthma Inflammatory cyokines close the airways
Psoriasis Inflammatory cytokines induce dermatitis
Pancreatitis Inflammatory cytokines induced pancreatic cell injury
Allergy Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions
Fibrosis Inflammatory cytokines attack traumatized tissue
Surgical complications Inflammatory cytokines prevent healing
Anemia Inflammatory cytokines attack erythropoietin production
Fibromyalgia Inflammatory cytokines are elevated in fibromyalgia patients

What You Should Do?

The number of inflammatory-related diseases that could be successfully treated with cytokine-lowering therapy is staggering. Pentoxifylline (PTX) is a cytokine-suppressing drug that has been overlooked by most of the medical establishment. Supplements such as fish oil, nettle leaf, DHEA and vitamin K possess mechanisms of suppressing inflammatory cytokines similar to PTX. There are no side-by-side comparisons that would enable us to categorically state whether PTX or natural agents (such as DHA fish oil) work better.

For those suffering from multiple degenerative diseases, we recommend the cytokine profile blood test. This can be done by your own doctor or you can inquire about it by calling 1-800-208-3334. If your cytokine test reveals excess levels of cytokines such as TNF-á and/or IL-1b, you may consider supplements such as DHA fish oil (1000-2000 mg/day). If you have been taking DHA fish oil, nettle leaf extract, vitamin K and DHEA, and blood tests show that you still have high levels of inflammatory cytokines, you should consider 400 mg to 800 mg a day of pentoxifylline (PTX) or Enbrel (if you can afford it).

We have previously published articles about the multiple degenerative diseases caused by chronic inflammation. The sheer volume of new confirmatory data mandates that those seeking to avoid age-related health catastrophes suppress their inflammatory cytokines.

I know most members reading this column will not have their blood tested and will instead, use some of the supplements that have been shown to suppress these dangerous cytokines. For most healthy people, this should work. If you suffer from a degenerative disease(s) associated with chronic inflammation, I urge you to take the Cytokine Profile or the C-reactive protein blood test we recommend. When you get your results, use the appropriate supplements and/or drugs to bring your inflammatory markers down to a safe range. This is a matter of life or death for many aging humans!

If you have questions about this pioneering new anti-aging protocol, call our advisors at 1-800-226-2370.

For longer life,

For Longer Life

William Faloon

Caution: PTX should not be used in those with bleeding disorders such as those with recent cerebral or retinal hemorrhage (Physicians Desk Reference, 2001). Patients taking Coumadin should have more frequent monitoring (once a week) of pro-thrombin times.70, 71 Those suffering from other types of bleeding should receive frequent physician examinations. According to two studies, PTX should be avoided by Parkinson’s patients.72, 73

It is important to note that the body uses tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a) to acutely fight infections. If patients are showing any sign of infectious disease, drugs like Enbrel (that inhibit the effects of TNF-a) are temporarily discontinued. A new FDA advisory states that patients should be tested and treated for inactive tuberculosis prior to therapy with another TNF-á inhibiting therapy (infliximab). Since PTX, fish oil and nettle directly suppress TNF-á, perhaps these agents should be temporarily discontinued during the time when one has an active infection.