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July 2011

In The News

Higher Vitamin D Levels Associated with Reduced Risk of Macular Degeneration Among Women

Higher Vitamin D Levels Associated with Reduced Risk of Macular Degeneration Among Women

The results of a study reported in a recent issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology suggest that having a high level of vitamin D could be protective against the development of early age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss in adults.*

The study involved 1,313 women participants in the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study (CAREDS). Serum samples were analyzed for 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Dietary questionnaires administered upon enrollment were analyzed for vitamin D intake from food and supplements.

Although no significant association was found between vitamin D and early macular degeneration risk in the entire group, when subjects younger than 75 years of age were analyzed, a protective association emerged. Intake of vitamin D from food and supplements was also found to be protective against early disease in participants under the age of 75.

Editor’s note: “The take-home message from this study is that having very low vitamin D status (25-hydroxyvitamin D blood concentrations lower than 38 nanomoles per liter [15 ng/mL]) may be associated with increasing your odds of developing age-related macular degeneration,” Dr. Millen concluded

—D. Dye


* Arch Opthalmol. 2011 Apr; 129(4):481-9.

Marker of Inflammation Associated with Memory Decline

A presentation at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Honolulu revealed the finding of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, of a link between higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP, a marker of inflammation) and memory loss in older individuals.*

Joel H. Kramer, PsyD, and his associates compared 76 men and women who had detectable levels of C-reactive protein to 65 adults of a similar age with undetectable levels. Word list tests evaluated the participants’ verbal recall, and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain measured the volume of the medial temporal lobe, including the hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, and parahippocampal cortex.

Men and women with detectable CRP levels had smaller medial temporal lobes and decreased verbal recall compared to those whose levels were undetectable. “These findings support our working model by associating brain inflammation with alterations in brain structure and cognition,” the authors write.

Editor’s note: It is not known whether the increased inflammation revealed by CRP is a cause of the memory loss observed in this study or if it indicates the presence of another disease process. If confirmed as a causative factor in cognitive decline, simple treatments could be used to combat the condition.

—D. Dye


* American Academy of Neurology annual meeting, April 13, 2011, Honolulu.

Blueberries Inhibit Fat Formation

Blueberries Inhibit Fat Formation

In addition to numerous other recently revealed benefits, blueberries may confer an inhibitory effect on the development of adipocytes (fat cells) according to research presented at the recent Experimental Biology 2011 meeting in Washington, DC.*

Texas Woman’s University graduate student Shiwani Moghe, MS, reported the results of an experiment in which three doses of blueberry polyphenols were administered to pre-adipocyte tissue cultures derived from mice. The tissue cultures were analyzed for polyphenols’ effect on adipocyte differentiation, which is the process by which unspecialized cells acquire the features of adipocytes that synthesize and store fat.

Moghe found a dose-dependent effect of blueberry polyphenols on adipocyte differentiation. Compared to control cultures that did not receive polyphenols, those that received the low, middle, and high dose showed a 27%, 63%, and 74% reduction in lipid content, without any significant difference in lipid breakdown observed.

Editor’s note: “Determining the best dose for humans will be important,” Dr. Moghe remarked. “The promise is there for blueberries to help reduce adipose tissue from forming in the body.”

—D. Dye


* Experimental Biology 2011 meeting, April, 2011, Washington, DC.

Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation Improves Endothelial Function

An article published in the journal Atherosclerosis reports a benefit for supplementation with CoQ10 on endothelial function in patients with ischemic left ventricular systolic dysfunction, a cause of heart failure.*

Researchers divided 56 men and women diagnosed with ischemic left ventricular systolic dysfunction to receive 300 mg of coenzyme Q10 per day or a placebo for eight weeks. Endothelial function was evaluated via brachial artery flow-mediated dilation, prior to and following the treatment period, and blood samples were analyzed to determine mitochondrial function, markers of oxidative stress, and other factors.

Participants who received CoQ10 experienced improvements in endothelial function, which correlated with increased mitochondrial function. No effects on blood pressure, lipids, glucose, C-reactive protein, or oxidative stress were observed in association with CoQ10 supplementation, which suggests that the benefit observed in this study is due to CoQ10’s positive effects on mitochondrial function.

Editor’s note: Endothelial dysfunction, which describes the malfunctioning of the cells that line the blood vessels, is a key event in the development of cardiovascular disease.

—D. Dye


* Atherosclerosis. 2011 February 17.

Fish Oil Pumps Up Responses to Breast Cancer Drug Tamoxifen

Fish Oil Pumps Up Responses to Breast Cancer Drug Tamoxifen

Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have found that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, may be a safe and beneficial booster for tamoxifen therapy.*

Jose Russo, MD, director of the Breast Cancer Research Laboratory at Fox Chase, recently presented the new findings at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011. Russo worked in collaboration with a team led by Andrea Manni, MD, from Pennsylvania State University. Together, they induced mammary tumors in rats and then divided the animals into four groups.

They fed the groups either a 17% fish oil diet, with or without tamoxifen, or a 20% corn oil diet, with or without tamoxifen, for eight weeks. They then analyzed gene expression patterns in the tumors. Omega-3 fatty acids produced a greater expression of genes related to cellular specialization, or differentiation, compared to corn oil. The combination of fish oil and tamoxifen reduced the expression of genes linked to tumor growth and spreading.

“If a tumor was being treated with tamoxifen, the addition of an omega-3 fatty acid diet seemed to make the tumor, at least at the molecular level, more benign and less aggressive and responsive to tamoxifen,” Russo said.

Editor’s note: This is a very important study in support of fish oil as adjuvant therapy with tamoxifen for breast cancer. This also supports Life Extension®’s long-held belief that an overabundant intake of omega-6 PUFAs has negative health effects. The traditional American diet contains copious levels of omega-6 PUFAs in comparison with omega-3 PUFAs.

—J. Finkel


* Accessed April 19, 2011.

Reduced Vitamin D Levels Could Help Explain High Blood Pressure in African Americans

An article published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine provides one explanation for the greater incidence of hypertension that occurs among African Americans in comparison with Americans of European descent.*

Ken Fiscella, MD, and colleagues compared data from 5,156 Caucasian and 1,984 adult African American participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2006. Blood pressure was measured upon enrollment and serum samples were analyzed for 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.

An average 4.0 mmHg adjusted increase in systolic blood pressure was observed in African Americans in comparison with Caucasian subjects. While 25% of the Caucasian population had vitamin D levels that were among the highest one-fifth of participants, only 2% of African Americans had levels this high. However, when the lowest fifth was analyzed, 61% of African Americans had levels that were in this range, compared to 11% of Caucasians.

Editor’s note: “We believe that simple interventions such as taking vitamin D supplements might have a positive impact on racial disparities,” Dr. Fiscella stated.

—D. Dye


* J Gen Intern Med. 2011 Apr 21.