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.
Greater vitamin D levels associated with longer cancer remission and survival
April 30 2014. A review published on April 29, 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) concluded that cancer patients who had higher serum vitamin D levels at diagnosis had better outcomes than those whose levels were low.
Hui Wang, MD, PhD and colleagues selected 25 studies involving 17,332 cases of cancer for their meta-analysis. Among breast and colorectal cancer patients whose serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were among the top 25% of subjects near the time of diagnosis, the risk of dying over follow-up was 37% and 45% lower in comparison with those whose intake was among the lowest 25%. For those with lymphoma, a vitamin D level among the top one-fourth of subjects was associated with a 52% lower risk of premature death. When disease-free survival was considered, higher vitamin D levels were found to be protective against breast cancer as well as lymphoma. Each 4 ng/mL (10 nmol/L) increase in serum vitamin D was associated with a 4% increase in overall survival over the studies' follow-up periods.
"By reviewing studies that collectively examined vitamin D levels in 17,332 cancer patients, our analysis demonstrated that vitamin D levels are linked to better outcomes in several types of cancer," stated Dr Wang, who is a Professor of the Institute for Nutritional Sciences at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai. "The results suggest vitamin D may influence the prognosis for people with breast cancer, colorectal cancer and lymphoma, in particular."
"Considering that vitamin D deficiency is a widespread issue all over the world, it is important to ensure that everyone has sufficient levels of this important nutrient," he noted. "Physicians need to pay close attention to vitamin D levels in people who have been diagnosed with cancer."
Go ahead . . . have that second cup
April 28 2014. The journal Diabetologia recently published the finding of Harvard researchers of a reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes among men and women who increased their daily intake of coffee.
For the current study, Drs Frank Hu and Shilpa Bhupathiraju of Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Nutrition and their associates utilized data from 48,464 participants in the Nurses' Health Study, 47,510 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study II, and 27,759 men who took part in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Dietary questionnaire responses provided by the subjects every four years for two decades or more were analyzed for the intake of regular and decaffeinated coffee.
Over the studies' follow-up period, 7,269 men and women were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Among those who increased their coffee intake by one cup or more per day over four years, the risk of diabetes over the following four year period was reduced by 11% in comparison with those whose intake remained unchanged. Decreasing coffee by a cup or more was associated with a 17% greater risk of developing the disease. Drinking at least three cups coffee per day was associated with a 37% lower risk than consuming one or fewer cups daily.
The authors observe that "These changes in risk were observed for caffeinated, but not decaffeinated coffee, and were independent of initial coffee consumption and 4-year changes in other dietary and lifestyle factors."
"Changes in coffee consumption habits appear to affect diabetes risk in a relatively short amount of time," they write. "Our findings confirm those of prospective studies that higher coffee consumption is associated with a lower type 2 diabetes risk and provide novel evidence that changes in coffee consumption habits are related to diabetes risk."
Increased calcium intake linked with reduced body fat in children at risk for diabetes
April 25 2014. The results of a study presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 conference, held in San Diego, associates a higher intake of calcium with lower body fat in African American children at risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study included 142 nondiabetic African American children aged five to nine years who were genotyped for variations associated with type 2 diabetes risk. Forty percent of the children were categorized as overweight and 20 percent were obese. Body mass index (BMI) percentile, percent fat and total body fat to height ratio were determined and dietary questionnaire responses were analyzed for the amount of daily calcium consumed.
The researchers, led by Laura L. Tosi, MD, who is the director of the bone health program at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC, uncovered significant relationships between body fat and five out of 67 genetic variations examined. In children who tested positive for diabetes-associated gene variants, higher calcium intake was associated with lower body fat and BMI in comparison with low intake. The authors suggest that calcium or related factors could cause epigenetic changes affecting how the genes associated with diabetes risk are expressed.
"What got us interested in this is the whole question of how the environment—including a person's diet—influences gene expression," Dr Tosi stated.
"Even though life expectancy for people with diabetes has gone up, the disease has a significant impact on quality of life, so finding ways to prevent people from developing diabetes is critical," she observed. "We were excited to find that higher calcium intake appears to mitigate the impact of some of the risk genes for type 2 diabetes, and we're eager to see if these results hold true in other populations."
Resveratrol improves glucose control, insulin sensitivity in diabetics
April 23 2014. The results of a meta-analysis published in the June 2014 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicate that supplementing with resveratrol, a compound that occurs in red grapes and wine, could help improve glucose control and insulin sensitivity in men and women with diabetes without affecting glycemic measures in those without the disease.
Researchers from Chongqing, China selected eleven randomized, controlled trials of resveratrol supplementation that included a total of 388 participants for their analysis. Resveratrol dose ranged from 8 to 1500 milligrams per day for periods of two weeks to six months. Three of the trials involved diabetic subjects.
While resveratrol did not impact glucose, insulin, insulin resistance or hemoglobin A1C in nondiabetics, these measures were improved among participants with diabetes. As potential mechanisms for resveratrol, authors Kai Liu and colleagues note that the compound has been shown to activate the expression of sirtuin 1, which benefits glucose control. Resveratrol also increases the expression of the insulin-dependent glucose transporter GLUT4 and activates glucose uptake in the absence of insulin.
Studies involving animal pancreatic islets have shown that resveratrol inhibits insulin secretion. By activating the expression of Akt (protein kinase B), resveratrol modulates insulin-signaling pathways. Furthermore, resveratrol helps protect against inflammation via several mechanisms.
"Resveratrol significantly improves glucose control and insulin sensitivity in persons with diabetes but does not affect glycemic measures in nondiabetic persons," the authors conclude. "Additional high-quality studies are needed to further evaluate the potential benefits of resveratrol in humans."
High grade prostate cancer associated with chronic inflammation
April 21 2014. In an article published online on April 18, 2014 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers reveal a link between chronic inflammation and a greater risk of high grade prostate cancer.
The study included 191 men with prostate cancer and 209 controls without the disease who received a placebo in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, which evaluated the effect of finasteride on prostate cancer prevention. Biopsies conducted at the end of the study provided information on the presence of inflammation in benign prostate tissue.
Among men who had inflammation in one or more biopsy cores there was a 78% higher risk of having prostate cancer and more than twice the risk of aggressive disease in comparison with subjects who had no cores indicating inflammation.
The current research was designed to eliminate bias that could occur when a study involves those who have cause to undergo a biopsy. "Because inflammation makes PSA levels go up, men with inflammation are more likely to have higher PSA and, with a rising PSA, they're more likely to be biopsied," commented senior author Elizabeth A. Platz, ScD, MPH, who is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and the School of Medicine. "By doing more biopsies on these men, prostate cancer is more likely to be detected, even if inflammation is not a cause of prostate cancer."
"What we've shown in this observational study is a clear association between prostate inflammation and prostate cancer, although we can't prove that inflammation is a cause of prostate cancer," she concluded. "I think there will be strategies going forward for either preventing inflammation or intervening when it occurs."
Glucosamine extends life span in mice
April 18 2014. In May 2010, Life Extension Update reported findings from a study of supplement users which found a reduced risk of dying in association with the use of glucosamine and chondroitin over a five year period. Now, in this month's issue of Nature Communications, Michael Ristow and colleagues at the University of Jena offer a reason why.
In an earlier study, Dr Ristow found a reduction in life span among roundworms given a diet high in sugar, whereas impairment of carbohydrate metabolism resulted in improved survival. In the current research, the team found that the administration of glucosamine resulted in an increase in roundworm lifespan of 5% in comparison with no treatment. When glucosamine was given to 100 week old mice, those receiving the compound experienced an increase in life span of nearly 10%. Further investigation revealed that glucosamine increased the breakdown of amino acids, which is what occurs in the absence of dietary carbohydrates. "This reflects the metabolic state of a low-carb diet due to glucosamine supplementation alone – while these mice ingested the same amount of carbohydrates as their unsupplemented counterparts," Dr Ristow explained.
In regard to supplementation, Dr Ristow stated that "This may be considered a valid option, and yes, I have started taking glucosamine myself." Due to glucosamine's inhibitory effect on carbohydrate metabolism, he recommended that "diabetics should perform tight blood glucose control, especially during the first weeks."
"Interestingly, two recent epidemiological studies on more than 77,000 individuals suggest that intake of glucosamine supplements is associated with reduced mortality in humans," he observed. "Unlike with our longer living mice, such an association is no definite proof of the effectiveness of glucosamine in humans. But the chances are good, and since unlike with most other potentially lifespan-extending drugs there are no known relevant side effects of glucosamine supplementation, I would tend to recommend this supplement."
ABC studies D
April 16 2014. The April, 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published findings derived from the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) study of a protective effect for higher vitamin D levels against cognitive decline over a four year period.
The current study included 2,777 well-functioning individuals between 70 to 79 years of age upon enrollment in Health ABC. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were measured one year after enrollment, and cognitive function was evaluated at the beginning of the study and at four years.
Sixty-eight percent of the subjects had low vitamin D levels of less than 30 ng/mL. The researchers observed an association between better cognitive test scores at the beginning of the study and higher vitamin D levels. When test scores at the end of the four year period were analyzed, a greater decline was noted in association with low vitamin D levels.
"This study provides increasing evidence that suggests there is an association between low vitamin D levels and cognitive decline over time," stated lead author Valerie Wilson, MD, who is an assistant professor of geriatrics at Wake Forest Baptist. "Although this study cannot establish a direct cause and effect relationship, it would have a huge public health implication if vitamin D supplementation could be shown to improve cognitive performance over time because deficiency is so common in the population."
"With just the baseline observational data, you can't conclude that low vitamin D causes cognitive decline," she added. "When we looked four years down the road, low vitamin D was associated with worse cognitive performance on one of the two cognitive tests used. It is interesting that there is this association and ultimately the next question is whether or not supplementing vitamin D would improve cognitive function over time."
Reduced vitamin D levels correlate with greater risk of fracture among women
April 9 2014. The World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, held this year in Seville, was the site of a presentation on April 4 of the finding of Swedish researchers of a greater risk of fracture in older women who had low levels of vitamin D measured over a five year period in comparison with those who had higher levels.
Among 1,044 Swedish women aged 75 years at the current study's initial visit, 715 attended the five year follow-up examination. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels measured at both visits were categorized as low (less than 20 ng/mL), intermediate (20-30 ng/mL) or high (over 30 ng/mL). Women whose vitamin D levels fell into the same category during both visits were considered to have consistently low, intermediate or high levels of the vitamin. The subjects were followed for a total of ten years, during which any fractures were documented.
While 20.6% of women whose vitamin D levels consistently low experienced hip fracture, they occurred in just 9.9% and 6.9% of those whose levels were consistently intermediate or high. "This study concludes that in the population sample of elderly women, vitamin D insufficiency sustained over 5-years was associated with increased 10-year risk of osteoporotic fracture," stated researcher Kristina Akesson, of Lund University's Clinical and Molecular Osteoporosis Research Unit. "This is part of a body of research which increasingly suggests that falls and fracture risk in the elderly could be lower by having higher vitamin D levels. The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) global recommendations for vitamin D advise daily intakes of 800 to 1000 IU/day in seniors for fracture and falls prevention, and if the on-going research shows that vitamin D levels are increased it may be a relatively simple and low-cost public health measure that could have significant positive effects on the incidence of osteoporotic fractures with aging."
Primate calorie restriction study confirms benefits
April 7 2014. The April 2014 issue of the journal Nature Communications published the outcome of a 25 year study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison which confirms a positive effect for calorie restriction in rhesus monkeys. The finding contradicts conclusions drawn by National Institute of Aging researchers who reported a lack of a significant survival benefit in association with calorie restriction in a recent study.
Beginning at 7 to 14 years of age, 76 rhesus monkeys were given an unlimited control diet or one that contained 30% fewer calories than daily amounts measured before the beginning of the study. At any time point over the course of the study, animals allowed to eat as much as they desired had a 78% higher risk of dying from any cause in comparison with those who received calorie restricted diets. When age-related mortality was considered, non-restricted monkeys had a 2.9 times greater risk of death in comparison with restricted animals.
"Caloric restriction essentially causes a reprogramming of the metabolism," explained coauthor Rozalyn Anderson. "In all species where it has been shown to delay aging and the diseases of aging, it affects the regulation of energy and the ability of cells and the organism to respond to changes in the environment as they age."
"We think our study is important because it means the biology we have seen in lower organisms is germane to primates," commented study founder Richard Weindruch. "We continue to believe that mechanisms that combat aging in caloric restriction will offer a lead into drugs or other treatments to slow the onset of disease and death."
"The basic biology of caloric restriction in rodents, worms, flies and yeast seems to carry over to primates, so we have a real opportunity to dissect that mechanism, look at how we can work with that basic biology, and benefit all those human primates who are so closely related to our rhesus monkeys," he added.
Improved physician awareness increases deficiency diagnoses
April 4 2014. Greater willingness on the part of physicians to order vitamin D tests for preventive care has resulted in a surge in diagnoses of deficiency, according to a study published in the April 2014 issue of the Southern Medical Journal.
Utilizing data from The National Ambulatory Medical Care and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care surveys, Karen E. Huang, MS, of the Center for Dermatology Research at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and her associates determined that between 2007 and 2010 approximately 7.5 million outpatient visits were associated with deficiency diagnoses. The researchers found that females were 2.6 times likelier than males to be diagnosed with low vitamin D levels, and that those aged 65 and older were nearly three times as likely to be deficient than younger patients.
"From 2007 to 2010, we noted that the number of diagnoses for vitamin D deficiency rapidly increased and tripled from 2008 to 2010," Dr Huang reported. "Previously, diagnoses of low vitamin D levels largely may have been used to identify why someone had a fracture or weak bones. In our data, we found that only 10 percent of visits with low vitamin D mentioned the patient having weak bones or a fracture."
"We believe this increase in visits with a diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency, but without a diagnosis of weak or fractured bones, suggests that a lot of doctors now are checking patients for this deficiency so that they can help prevent the patients from developing weak bones," she concluded.
Meta-analysis reveals lower risk of mortality in association with increased vitamin D over up to 29 years of follow-up
April 2 2014. A review and meta-analysis published on April 1, 2014 in the British Medical Journal adds more evidence to an association between a higher serum level of vitamin D and a lower risk of death from any cause over follow-up periods ranging from 0.3 to 29 years. The international team of researchers also uncovered a reduction in the risk of premature death in association with the use of vitamin D3 supplements.
Rajiv Chowdhury and colleagues selected 73 observational cohort studies that reported serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the cause of deaths that occurred among 849,412 men and women over follow-up. The analysis uncovered a 35% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease or from any cause over follow-up among those whose vitamin D levels were in the lowest one-third of subjects in comparison with those whose levels were among the highest third. For non-vascular, non-cancer deaths, the risk was 30% higher and for cancer deaths, the risk was 14% higher among those in the lowest one-third of serum vitamin D.
Analysis of 22 randomized controlled trials of vitamin D supplements, involving a total of 30,716 participants, revealed an 11% lower risk of dying over three to seven years of follow-up among those who received vitamin D3 in comparison with a placebo or no treatment. As possible mechanisms for vitamin D in the prevention of premature mortality, the authors list a range of biological responses activated by vitamin D, involvement of the vitamin in gene regulation, association with increased white blood cell telomere length, and a relationship between low levels of vitamin D with suboptimal lifestyle and socioeconomic circumstances.
They recommend further investigations to establish optimal vitamin D3 dose and duration.