In The NewsMay 2017
Kidney Disease Risk Raised by High Triglycerides and Low HDL
A study published online in Diabetes Care has found an association between high levels of triglycerides, low levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol) and increased risk of diabetic kidney disease.*
The observational retrospective study, conducted by a team headed by Giuseppina T. Russo, MD, PhD, of Italy’s University of Messina, involved 15,362 diabetes patients. The subjects started at baseline with kidney function tests in the normal range and LDL cholesterol no higher than 130 mg/dL.
The study found a correlation between high triglyceride levels at or above 150 mg/dL and a 26% increased risk of reduced kidney function as measured by low eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate).
In addition, scientists saw increased risk of kidney disease in those that had low levels of HDL (the good cholesterol). Individuals with lower-than-normal HDL experienced a 27% increased risk of low eGFR.
Editor’s Note: The study’s authors state that, “In a large population of outpatients with diabetes, low HDL-C and high TG levels were independent risk factors for the development of diabetic kidney disease over four years.”
*Diabetes Care. 2016 Dec;39(12):2278-87.
Low Vitamin D Linked to Cognitive Decline
Vitamin D has long been thought to protect against loss and damage of the brain’s neurons, and new research confirms that idea.*
A study from Duke University has found an association between low levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of impairment and cognitive decline in elderly subjects.
More than 1,200 participants 60 years or older from the Chinese Longitudinal Health Longevity Survey were involved in the first large-scale prospective research in Asia. Baseline vitamin D levels were measured at the beginning of the study and cognitive abilities were observed over the next two years.
The results showed that those with lower vitamin D were about twice as likely to show significant indications of cognitive decline over the course of the study. Participants’ gender and specific age had no bearing on the results.
Editor’s Note: This study should prompt further research into the precise mechanism by which vitamin D protects neurons, as it could lead to the discovery of treatments and interventions to fight the growing rate of cognitive decline seen in the elderly.
*J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016 Oct;71(10):1363-8.
Resveratrol has Benefits for Ulcerative Colitis
The Archives of Medical Research reported the outcome of a randomized pilot study that found a benefit for supplementing with resveratrol in adults with ulcerative colitis, a disease which causes painful inflammation and sores in the colon and rectum.*
The study included 56 participants diagnosed with active mild to moderate disease. Subjects were randomized to receive 500 mg of resveratrol or a placebo daily for six weeks. At the end of the study, participants who received a placebo experienced a decrease in the antioxidant SOD (superoxide dismutase) and an elevation in MDA (malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress) in comparison with levels measured prior to the intervention.
However, among those who received resveratrol, MDA was significantly lower and total antioxidant capacity and SOD were higher compared to pretreatment levels and to levels measured in the placebo group at the end of the study.
Treatment with resveratrol was associated with decreased disease activity and improved quality of life compared to the placebo group.
Editor’s Note: Ulcerative colitis “can occur and develop notably as a result of oxidative stress by reactive oxygen species,” according to the authors of the report.
*Arch Med Res. 2016 May;47(4):304-9.
Popular Painkillers Raise Risk of Heart Failure
A study based on healthcare databases in four countries has found that the use of over-the-counter painkillers such as piroxicam, diclofenac, and naproxen can lead to a significantly higher risk of being hospitalized with heart failure.*
Researchers analyzed medical records from Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom of close to 10 million adults who had taken nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They found that those subjects’ chances of being admitted to a hospital with heart failure were, on average, 19% higher compared with people who avoided the medications.
Cardiology professor Gunnar Gislason of Copenhagen University Hospital observed, “Even a small increase in cardiovascular risk is a concern for public health…NSAIDs are widely available over the counter. This practice further fuels the common misconception that they are harmless drugs that are safe for everyone.” Gislason believes access to NSAIDs should be restricted.
The medical director of the British Heart Foundation, Professor Peter Weissberg, recommends that patients only take “the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.”
Editor’s Note: Although the evidence shows that these drugs should be used sparingly, it’s worth noting that the most commonly used NSAID, ibuprofen, was associated in the study with a lower risk of hospitalization due to heart failure compared to other medicines.
*BMJ. 2016 Sep 28;354:i4857.
Decreased Vitamin D and Elevated Bladder Cancer Risk
The conclusion of a systematic review reported at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Brighton, England, adds evidence to an association between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of bladder cancer.*
Dr. Rosemary Bland and colleagues reviewed seven studies whose subjects ranged in number from 112 to 1,125. Five of the studies found associations between decreased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and a higher risk of bladder cancer. Additionally, higher vitamin D levels were associated with improved bladder cancer outcomes and survival.
To investigate their hypothesis, the team evaluated the expression of vitamin D signaling components and synthesis of the active form of vitamin D in human transitional epithelial cells, which line the bladder. They discovered that the cells have the capacity to activate and respond to vitamin D, which then stimulates an immune system response.
Editor’s Note: “More clinical studies are required to test this association, but our work suggests that low levels of vitamin D in the blood may prevent the cells within the bladder from stimulating an adequate response to abnormal cells,” Dr. Bland explained. “As vitamin D is cheap and safe, its potential use in cancer prevention is exciting and could potentially impact the lives of many people.”
*Society for Endocrinology annual conference, Brighton, England. November 8, 2016.