News flashes are posted here frequently to keep you up-to-date with the latest advances in health and longevity. We have an unparalleled track record of breaking stories about life extension advances.
Trial fails to uncover association between calcium supplementation and atherosclerosis
October 28 2013. An article appearing on October 23, 2013 in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research reports the conclusion of Australian researchers that supplementing with calcium may help prevent rather than promote atherosclerosis. The finding refutes that of other studies whose results have been interpreted as suggestive of an unfavorable association between calcium supplementation and the condition.
Joshua R. Lewis and colleagues analyzed data from 1,103 older women who participated in the calcium intake fracture outcome study: a five-year randomized controlled trial that compared the effects of a daily placebo with 1.2 grams of supplemental calcium. The current analysis involved women assessed for common carotid artery intimal media thickness (a measure of atherosclerosis) during the third year of the trial.
At the study's conclusion, there was no significant difference in average carotid artery intimal media thickness between the group that received calcium and those who received a placebo. However, the presence of carotid artery atherosclerosis was ascertained in 46.7% of women who received calcium, in comparison with 54.7% of those in the placebo group. Participants whose total calcium intake from diet and supplements was among the top one-third of subjects had a 33% lower unadjusted risk of carotid atherosclerosis than those whose intake was among the lowest third, which remained significant after adjustment.
The authors announced that "To our knowledge this is the only randomized clinical trial of calcium supplementation in elderly women to have assessed carotid ultrasound measures of subclinical calcification and atherosclerosis and compared the long-term effects of calcium supplementation on this outcome."
"Our study does not support the hypothesis that calcium supplementation increases either carotid artery intimal medial thickness or carotid atherosclerosis," they conclude. "In addition calcium supplementation and high total calcium intake may indeed reduce carotid atherosclerosis."
Fucoidans boost immune response to the influenza vaccine
October 23 2013. In the November issue of the Journal of Nutrition, scientists report an improved immune response in subjects taking fucoidans. Fucoidans are sulfated polysaccharides found in edible seaweed. They've been previously shown to have anti-viral and immunomodulatory effects.
Men and women over the age of 60 participated in a stratified randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind study in Osaka, Japan. They were split into one of two groups, receiving either 300 mg of Mekabu fucoidan (MF) or placebo during a 4 week period. All 70 volunteers received a seasonal influenza vaccine of 3 viral strains. Blood samples were taken prior to vaccination and after the fifth and 20th week to measure antibody titers and natural killer cell activity.
Compared to the placebo group, participants taking the fucoidans had higher antibody titers against all 3 viral strains, with the most benefit seen for the B/Brisbane/60/2008 antigen. High titers were maintained over 20 weeks after vaccination. The MF group also exhibited increased natural killer cell activity after 9 weeks.
"Our study showed a possible adjunctive role of MF in antibody production in the elderly, although further studies on the underlying immunomodulatory mechanisms are needed. It is hoped that the popular seaweeds eaten daily in Japan, though almost unknown around the world as a nutritional source, will be consumed outside Japan for possible immunopotentiation and for attenuating the burden of infectious diseases in the elderly."
Increased fiber intake correlated with lower cardiometabolic risks
October 21 2013. In an article published online on October 16, 2013 in The American Journal of Medicine, researchers from Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital report an association between greater intake of dietary fiber and a reduction in risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Cheryl R. Clark, MD, ScD and her colleagues analyzed data from 23,168 men and women who participated in the 1999-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Overall, dietary fiber intake was below recommended adequate intake levels, with non-Hispanic blacks reporting the lowest intake. In comparison with those whose intake was among the lowest 20% of the subjects, men and women whose intake was among the highest 20% had a 22% lower risk of metabolic syndrome, a 34% lower risk of inflammation and a 23% lower risk of obesity. When the participants were examined according to race, a protective effect for fiber against obesity and metabolic syndrome was observed among Caucasians, while fiber was protective against inflammation in all groups.
"Our findings indicate that, among a nationally representative sample of nonpregnant US adults in NHANES 1999-2010, the consumption of dietary fiber was consistently below the recommended total adequate intake levels across survey years," stated Dr Clark. "Our study also confirms persistent differences in dietary fiber intake among socioeconomic status and racial/ethnic subpopulations over time."
"Overall, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and obesity each decreased with increasing quintiles of dietary fiber intake," she observed.
"Low dietary fiber intake from 1999-2010 in the US and associations between higher dietary fiber and a lower prevalence of cardiometabolic risks suggest the need to develop new strategies and policies to increase dietary fiber intake," Dr Clark added. "Additional research is needed to determine effective clinical and population-based strategies for improving fiber intake trends in diverse groups."
Higher omega-3 fatty acid levels associated with healthier brains
October 18, 2013. The October 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association reports the finding of Finnish researchers of a reduction in silent brain infarcts and white matter changes in older men and women with higher levels of plasma phospholipid long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Silent infarcts, which are small brain lesions caused by lack of blood flow, are associated with a decrease in thinking skills and are estimated to affect approximately 20% of healthy older individuals.
For the current investigation, Jyrki K. Virtanen and colleagues evaluated data from participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study aged 65 and older who underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain between 1992 and 1994. Of this group, 2,313 subjects underwent repeat MRI examination after five years. Those with a history of stroke or transient ischemic attack, or whose fatty acid data was incomplete were excluded from the current study. Plasma samples collected from 1992 to 1993 were analyzed for phospholipid polyunsaturated fatty acid levels.
When those whose long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (EPA, DHA and DPA) levels were among the top 25% of 2,293 participants were compared with those whose levels were among the lowest 25%, they were found to have a 40% lower risk of subclinical infarct detected during the first MRI. Subjects whose long-chain omega-3 levels were highest also had fewer white matter changes in comparison with those in the lowest group.
"Among older adults, higher phospholipid long‐chain omega‐3 PUFA content was associated with lower prevalence of subclinical infarcts and better white matter grade on MRI," the authors write. "Our results support the beneficial effects of fish consumption, the major source of long‐chain omega‐3 PUFAs, on brain health in later life."
Nutrients lower hemoglobin A1c in diabetics
October 16, 2013. The July-September 2013 issue of the Annals of Medical & Health Sciences Research reported the outcome of a study conducted by researchers in India which found a benefit for alpha-lipoic acid, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E in men and women with diabetes.
In a randomized, double-blinded trial, Dr Pradeep S. Nahar and his associates divided 104 diabetics between the ages of 21 and 65 years of age to receive a daily placebo or one of the following regimens for ninety days: 300 milligrams alpha-lipoic acid, 180 milligrams eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 120 milligrams docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), or 400 milligrams vitamin E. Fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c, a marker of long term glucose control) were measured at the beginning of the study and at its conclusion.
In comparison with the placebo group, participants who receive alpha-lipoic acid, EPA/DHA or vitamin E experienced a reduction in HbA1c. Subjects in the three treatment groups also had a nonsignificant decline in fasting glucose.
"The results of this study demonstrate that antioxidants alpha lipoic acid, omega 3 fatty acid and vitamin E showed encouraging decrease in blood glucose and HbA1c with no adverse effect and these antioxidants may be used in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus," the authors write. "However further study with larger sample size and longer duration of treatment is required to definitely establish the role of anti-oxidants in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Depending upon the cost benefit analysis we found vitamin E to be the most cost effective even though the maximum improvement in blood glucose and HbA1c was with omega-3 fatty acid."
"Most importantly, since the antioxidants differed in their effects on parameters of insulin sensitivity, combining these drugs might prove as an attractive option in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus," they conclude.
Resveratrol shows potential for the treatment of a number of cancers
October 14, 2013. According to investigators at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, the compound known as resveratrol has the potential to boost radiation therapy for several types of cancer. The findings were described in the August 2013 issue of the Journal of Surgical Research.
Acting on the results of earlier research involving prostate cancer cells, assistant professor of surgery Michael Nicholl, MD and his associates studied the effects of resveratrol in melanoma cells that were resistant to treatment with radiation. (Resistance limits the benefits of radiotherapy in cancer patients.) They found that the combination of resveratrol and radiotherapy inhibited proliferation and increased apoptosis (programmed cell death). While resveratrol treatment alone resulted in the death of 44% of the tumor cells, resveratrol combined with radiation resulted in the death of 65% of the cells.
"Our study investigated how resveratrol and radiotherapy inhibit the survival of melanoma cells," stated Dr Nicholl. "This work expands upon our previous success with resveratrol and radiation in prostate cancer. Because of difficulties involved in delivery of adequate amounts of resveratrol to melanoma tumors, the compound is probably not an effective treatment for advanced melanoma at this time."
"We've seen glimmers of possibilities, and it seems that resveratrol could potentially be very important in treating a variety of cancers," he added. "It comes down to how to administer the resveratrol. If we can develop a successful way to deliver the compound to tumor sites, resveratrol could potentially be used to treat many types of cancers. Melanoma is very tricky due to the nature of how the cancer cells travel throughout the body, but we envision resveratrol could be combined with radiation to treat symptomatic metastatic tumors, which can develop in the brain or bone."
Higher vitamin D levels correlated with improved breast cancer prognosis
October 11, 2013. An article published online on October 9, 2013 in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment reports the results of a meta-analysis conducted by Canadian researchers which found an association between higher serum levels of vitamin D and better prognosis for women with early stage breast cancer.
For their analysis, Pamela J. Goodwin of the University of Toronto and her colleagues selected eight studies involving a total of 5,691 women diagnosed with breast cancer from 1973 to 2010. Blood samples were collected, on average, within 90 days of diagnosis or shortly before treatment. Deficient levels of vitamin D were uncovered in 38.6% of the subjects.
When the lowest versus highest categories of serum vitamin D were compared in a pooled analysis, women whose levels were low had a risk of recurrence that was more than double that of subjects whose levels were high and a risk of death that was 76% higher. The authors remark that vitamin D, when activated, can alter the transcription and expression of specific genes, resulting in growth arrest, apoptosis, aromatase suppression, decreased inflammation, and inhibition of angiogenesis, invasion and metastasis, all of which help combat cancer.
"These findings support an association of low levels of vitamin D with increased risk of recurrence and death in early stage breast cancer patients," the authors conclude. "Given the observational nature of the included studies, it cannot be concluded that this association is causal. Further research is warranted to investigate the potential beneficial effects of vitamin D in breast cancer."
Folic acid associated with lower heart disease risk in kidney disease patients
October 9, 2013. In the October, 2013 issue of the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers from China and Johns Hopkins University report the findings of a meta-analysis of randomized trials of folic acid supplementation in men and women with kidney disease which concluded that treatment with the vitamin may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is increased in this population. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps reduce homocysteine which, when elevated, increases cardiovascular disease risk.
Xiaobin Wang of Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues selected nine randomized trials for their analysis that examined the relationship between folic acid therapy and cardiovascular disease. Pooled analysis of the 8,234 subjects found a 10% lower risk of cardiovascular disease among those who received the vitamin in comparison with those who did not receive it. When trials involving patients who did not consume grains fortified with folic acid were separately examined, the risk was further reduced. The researchers also uncovered a greater benefit for folic acid supplementation in trials involving patients with advanced or end-stage disease, or which had a lower percentage of diabetics upon enrollment.
"Our meta-analysis of nine randomized trials indicates that folic acid supplementation may be effective for cardiovascular disease prevention in populations with kidney disease, particularly among trials of patients without a history of grain fortification with folic acid, with lower percent baseline diabetes, and in patients with end stage renal disease or advanced chronic kidney disease," the authors write. "These results are especially important for countries like China, where food is not routinely fortified with folic acid."
Delaying aging predicted to increase years spent in good health
October 7, 2013. The October 2013 issue of the journal Health Affairs published a study by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), Harvard University and other institutions which concluded that delaying aging would be a better way to reduce disability than focusing on specific disease therapies.
By employing a microsimulation of the future health and spending of older men and women, Dana Goldman of USC and colleagues compared disease-specific scenarios with a delayed aging scenario. The team, which included notable aging researcher S. Jay Olshansky, determined that delayed aging could add 2.2 years spent primarily in good health to average life expectancy, while addressing separate diseases would result in lesser improvements in health and longevity.
"In the last half-century, major life expectancy gains were driven by finding ways to reduce mortality from fatal diseases," Dr Goldman stated. "But now disabled life expectancy is rising faster than total life expectancy, leaving the number of years that one can expect to live in good health unchanged or diminished. If we can age more slowly, we can delay the onset and progression of many disabling diseases simultaneously."
"Even a marginal success in slowing aging is going to have a huge impact on health and quality of life," added Dr Olshansky, of University of Illinois-Chicago's the School of Public Health. "This is a fundamentally new approach to public health that would attack the underlying risk factors for all fatal and disabling diseases. We need to begin the research now. We don't know which mechanisms are going to work to actually delay aging, and there are probably a variety of ways this could be accomplished, but we need to decide now that this is worth pursuing."
Resveratrol regenerated following metabolism
October 4, 2013. The October 2, 2013 issue of Science Translational Medicine reports the finding of researchers at England's University of Leicester that resveratrol, a compound that occurs in red grapes, is regenerated after being metabolized into other compounds in the body.
"It has been known for many years that resveratrol is rapidly converted to sulfate and glucuronide metabolites in humans and animals – meaning the plasma concentrations of resveratrol itself quickly become very low after administration," explained lead research Karen Brown, who is a translational cancer research expert at the University of Leicester. "It has always been difficult to understand how resveratrol is able to have activity in animal models when the concentrations present are so low, and it has made some people skeptical about whether it might have any effects in humans. Researchers have hypothesized for a long time that resveratrol might be regenerated from its major metabolites in whole animals but it has never been proven."
"Our study was the first to show that resveratrol can be regenerated from sulfate metabolites in cells and that this resveratrol can then have biological activity that could be useful in a wide variety of diseases in humans," Dr Brown announced. "Importantly, we did all our work with clinically achievable concentrations so we are hopeful that our findings will translate to humans. Overall, I think our findings are very encouraging for all types of medical research on resveratrol. They help to justify future clinical trials where, previously, it may have been difficult to argue that resveratrol can be useful in humans because of the low detectable concentrations."
"There is considerable commercial interest in developing new forms of resveratrol that can resist or overcome the issue of rapid metabolism," she added. "Our results suggest such products may not actually be necessary to deliver biologically active doses of resveratrol to people."
Resveratrol improves glucose and other factors in clinical trial
October 2, 2013. A report published on September 1, 2013 in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine documents a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial which determined that supplementation with resveratrol, a compound found in red grapes, was associated with a reduction in a number of factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The trial enrolled 66 type 2 diabetic men and women residing in Iran, a country that has a high prevalence of diabetes. Participants were supplemented with 1 gram resveratrol or a placebo daily for 45 days. Weight, blood pressure, fasting glucose, hemoglobin A1C, insulin, insulin resistance, triglycerides, lipids, and markers of liver and kidney function were assessed before and after treatment.
At the study's conclusion, subjects who received resveratrol had experienced lower systolic blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin A1C, insulin and insulin resistance, and demonstrated an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. While glucose declined by an average of 34.93 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) among those who received resveratrol, subjects who received the placebo experienced an average increase of 9.89 mg/dL as well as a rise in low density lipoprotein (LDL).
"Based on the outcomes of recent clinical trials, there is now a reasonable amount of scientific evidence to support the claim that resveratrol is beneficial against chronic diseases," authors Ali Movahed and colleagues write. "The present study supports the strong antidiabetic effect of resveratrol reported in numerous animal studies, as well as the effects observed in the human studies. It also supports the case for resveratrol supplementation over a short term. Nevertheless, well-designed clinical trials with resveratrol supplementation in a larger type 2 diabetes mellitus population and over a longer duration are required to recommend the use of resveratrol independently or as an adjunct in diabetic population."