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Life Extension Magazine

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April 2011

In The News

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Essential for Healthy Mood

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Essential for Healthy Mood

Low intake of omega-3 fatty acids has long been linked with psychiatric disturbances, though the exact mechanism has been unknown. Now, a group of French scientists has discovered that dietary deficiency of omega-3 fats in animals causes a loss of function in certain central nervous system receptors that are crucial for neurotransmission and a healthy mood.1,2

In this study, scientists used a specific diet to mimic a lifelong imbalance of essential omega-3/omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in mice. Reducing omega-3 levels reduced synaptic and behavioral function of the CB1R receptor in mice, which resulted in impaired emotional behavior.1,2

These findings help explain the correlation between omega-3-deficient diets, which are widespread in the industrialized world, and mood disorders such as depression.

—E. Wagner, ND


1. Nat Neurosci. 2011 Jan 30.
2. Accessed February 1, 2011.

Study Associates Vitamin E with Increased Life Span Among Specific Groups

Study Associates Vitamin E with Increased Life Span Among Specific Groups

The journal Age and Ageing describes the finding of an association between supplementing with vitamin E and longer life among older male smokers.*

The study involved 10,837 participants in the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study which examined the effect of supplementation with these nutrients on the risk of lung cancer in Finnish male smokers aged 50–69 years upon enrollment. Participants received beta-carotene, vitamin E, both beta-carotene and vitamin E, or a placebo through April, 1993.

The current analysis was restricted to men who participated in follow-up past the age of 65. While supplementing with vitamin E appeared to have no effect on the life span of subjects between the ages of 65 to 70, mortality over follow-up was reduced by 24% when the subjects were 71 years of age or older compared to those who did not receive the vitamin.

Editor’s note: This effect was mainly due to fewer deaths among men who smoked less than a pack of cigarettes daily and whose vitamin C intake was above the median of the study’s participants, for whom vitamin E was associated with an increase in life span of two years.

—D. Dye


* Age and Ageing. 2011 Jan 17.

Belly Fat Puts Women at Risk for Osteoporosis

A recent study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) found that having too much internal abdominal fat may have a damaging effect on bone health.* This runs counter to the long-held belief that obese women were at lower risk for developing osteoporosis, stemming from the idea that excess body fat had a protective effect against bone loss.

Miriam A. Bredella, MD, a radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School, led a team of colleagues who set out to evaluate the abdominal, subcutaneous, visceral, and total fat, as well as bone marrow fat and bone mineral density, in 50 premenopausal women with a mean Body Mass Index of 30.

Their study revealed that women with more visceral fat had increased bone marrow fat and decreased bone mineral density.

“Our results showed that having a lot of belly fat is more detrimental to bone health than having more superficial fat or fat around the hips,” Dr. Bredella said. “It is important for the public to be aware that excess belly fat is a risk factor for bone loss, as well as heart disease and diabetes.”

—J. Finkel


* Bone. 2010 Dec 30.

High Dietary Fat, Cholesterol Linked to Increased Breast Cancer Risk

High Dietary Fat, Cholesterol Linked to Increased Breast Cancer Risk

Researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University recently found that elevated fat and cholesterol levels, which are common in the American diet, play a major role in the growth and spread of breast cancer.*

The research team was led by cancer biologist Philippe G. Frank, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Jefferson. The team set out to determine the link between diet and breast cancer. Other current studies have shown an increase in breast cancer incidence in immigrant populations that relocate from a region of low incidence. This aligns with the staggering fact that the incidence rate of breast cancer is five times higher in Western countries than other developed countries.

The result of the study showed that mice fed a Western diet and predisposed to develop mammary tumors can develop larger tumors that are faster growing and metastasize more easily compared to animals eating a control diet.

Several biomarkers of tumor progression were examined to confirm the aggressive nature of the cancer in animals fed a high cholesterol diet.

“These data provide new evidence for an increase in cholesterol utilization by breast tumors and thus provides many new avenues for prevention, screening, and treatment,” Dr. Frank says.

—J. Finkel


* Accessed January 25, 2011.

Heart Surgeries Trigger Strokes, Seizures

Loyola University Health System neurologists reported in a recent issue of the journal Hospital Practice that neurological complications like seizures and strokes account for “considerable morbidity and mortality” following cardiac procedures.* Delirium, pituitary gland problems, spinal cord or peripheral nerve injuries, and central nervous system infections are all issues that may also arise.

“Neurologic complications are always a risk with cardiac surgery, especially in older patients who have health problems,” Dr. Jose Biller, first author of the article and chairman of the Department of Neurology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine said.

While Biller said that despite the risks, cardiac surgeries generally are highly beneficial and life saving, “neurologic complications remain an important cause of morbidity, hospitalization time and mortality following cardiac surgery and interventional cardiac procedures.”

Editor’s Note: This is yet another reason why Life Extension readers should avoid cardiovascular disease.

—J. Finkel


* Hosp Pract (Minneap). 2010 Nov;38(4):83-9.