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Life Extension Magazine

<< Back to January 2007

January 2007

Silymarin Lowers Glucose, Lipid Levels in Diabetics

Silymarin, a milk thistle seed extract, helps lower elevated blood sugar and lipid levels in diabetics, according to new findings.1

Scientists administered 200 mg of silymarin three times daily for four months to 25 type II diabetes patients, while 26 diabetics received a placebo. Blood levels of fasting glucose, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c, which reflects long-term glucose control), insulin, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and triglycerides were measured before the trial and at its conclusion.

Subjects who received silymarin experienced significant reductions in fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides, while fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and HbA1c increased in the placebo group.

By decreasing glucose and lipid levels, silymarin may thus play an important role in the management of type II diabetes.

—Dayna Dye

Green Tea Delays Memory Loss in Aged Mice

Since oxidative stress is implicated in brain senescence, scientists investigated the effects of green tea polyphenols, a potent antioxidant, in senescence-accelerated mice. The mice served as a model of brain senescence, with short life span, cerebral atrophy, and cognitive dysfunction. They were fed water containing 0.02% green tea polyphenol (equivalent to a mean daily dose of about 35 mg per kilogram of body weight) from the age of 1 month to 15 months.

Daily consumption of green tea polyphenols prevented memory regression and DNA oxidative damage in the mice, suggesting that regular intake of green tea polyphenols may promote healthy aging of the brain in older persons.2

—Dayna Dye

Grape Seed Blocks Colon Cancer Cell Growth

Grape seed extract inhibits the growth of human colorectal tumor cells in the lab and in mice, researchers recently reported.3

Administration of three concentrations of grape seed extract to human colorectal cancer cell lines in culture produced an inhibition of cell growth that increased with the concentration and time exposed to grape seed extract. There was also an increase in programmed cancer cell death (apoptosis). Grape seed increased the availability of a protein that halts cancer cell replication, while decreasing several proteins that encourage cell division.

When the extract was given to mice implanted with human colorectal tumor cells, tumor volume was reduced 44% after eight weeks compared to mice that did not receive the extract. Levels of a protein associated with cancer cell self-destruction doubled in the tumor cells.

—Dayna Dye

Omega-3s Slow Cognitive Decline in Mild Alzheimer’s Cases

Omega-3 fatty acids may slow cognitive decline in patients with very mild Alzheimer’s disease, according to a newly released study.4

Alzheimer’s patients received 600 mg of EPA and 1.7 grams of DHA or a placebo for six months, followed by a six-month period during which both groups received the omega-3 fatty acids.

While most subjects saw no difference in the rate of cognitive decline at 6 or 12 months, a subgroup with very mild cognitive impairment receiving the placebo had a significant decline. This decline was halted when the placebo group received omega-3 supplements during the study’s second half.

The results support earlier findings that the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

—Dayna Dye

Low Selenium Levels Increase Coronary Artery Disease Risk

People with higher selenium levels or greater selenium intake have a lower risk of coronary heart disease, according to a new meta-analysis that examined the findings of 31 studies.5

Among 25 observational studies, a 50% increase in selenium concentrations was associated with a 24% reduction in coronary heart disease risk. In six randomized trials, those who used selenium supplements saw an 11% reduction in coronary heart disease risk.

The authors noted that selenium-containing proteins may scavenge free radicals, regenerating antioxidant systems and protecting endothelial cells from lipid peroxidation. Low selenium may contribute to heart disease by increasing platelet aggregation and vasoconstriction. In addition, selenium may help protect the cardiovascular system from toxic metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, that cause oxidative damage.

—Dayna Dye

Study Says Benefits of Eating Fish Outweigh Risks

Any risks associated with regular consumption of fish are far outweighed by the associated health benefits, according to a review by the Harvard School of Public Health.6

The authors found that one to two weekly servings of fish, containing 250 mg or more per day of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, reduced the risk of coronary heart disease death by 36% and of all-cause mortality by 17%.

Because DHA benefits the infant brain, fish and shellfish are recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers. However, these women should avoid fish containing high levels of methylmercury, such as swordfish and albacore tuna, because even low levels of mercury adversely affect early neurodevelopment.

Levels of dioxins and PCBs in fish are low, and their potentially adverse health effects are outweighed by the benefits of fish intake.

—Dayna Dye

Osteoarthritis May Signify Accelerated Biological Aging

A recent report suggests that osteoarthritis may be a sign of rapid biological aging, which is based on the measurement of certain biomarkers.7

Researchers examined 1,086 twins between the ages of 31 and 79. Each participant was x-rayed for osteoarthritis, and blood samples were analyzed to assess biological aging, as reflected by the shortening of telomeres in white blood cells. Telomeres shorten with time or insufficient repair of free-radical damage, and shortened telomeres are seen in numerous age-related diseases.

Advancing chronological age was associated with shorter telomeres in all participants. The 160 people with x-ray-confirmed osteoarthritis demonstrated markedly shorter telomere lengths, signifying increased biological aging. The degree of telomere shortening in those with arthritis was equivalent to the amount accumulated over 11 years of life in healthy individuals, and was also associated with severity of the disease.

—Dayna Dye

Mediterranean Diet May Lower Alzheimer’s Risk

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center report that eating a Mediterranean-style diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.8

The scientists analyzed the diets of 194 Alzheimer’s sufferers and 1,790 people without dementia. Questionnaires on dietary intake during the previous year were used to score adherence to the Mediterranean diet on a scale of 0 to 9.

Close adherence to the diet was significantly associated with a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s, reducing risk by 19-24% for each diet score point. Compared to subjects in the bottom third of diet scores, those in the top third had a 68% lower risk, while those in the middle third had a 53% reduced risk. The association between the diet and Alzheimer’s risk remained valid even when the researchers accounted for other vascular disease risk factors such as stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

—Dayna Dye