By D. Dye, M. Richmond, Maylin Paez-Rodriguez
Higher Vitamin D Levels Associated with Reduced All-Cause Mortality
The results of a meta-analysis published in BioMed Central Public Health reveal a lower risk of dying over 3.8 to 13.5 years of follow-up among men and women with higher vitamin D levels.*
Lynne Rush and her associates analyzed the findings of nine studies which provided data on serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status and mortality for a total of 24,297 adults of varying ages. Over the studies’ follow-up periods, 5,324 deaths occurred. After adjusting for several factors, a 19% higher risk of dying from any cause over follow-up was found among those with lower serum vitamin D as compared to higher levels. When the subjects were analyzed according to age, the adjusted risk of dying was 12% higher for subjects with low vitamin D in studies of subjects whose age averaged less than 65 years. For people over age 65, the adjusted risk of dying was 25% higher in those with low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.
Editor’s Note: “As far as we are aware, this is the only systematic review and meta-analysis that has specifically investigated whether the apparent association between low vitamin D status and all-cause mortality is age-dependent,” the authors announced. “Further studies investigating the association between vitamin D deficiency and all-cause mortality in younger adults with adjustment for all important confounders (or using randomized trials of supplementation) are required to clarify this relationship.”
* BMC Public Health. 2013 Jul 24;13(1):679.
Previously Deemed “Safe” Levels of Sugar May Reduce Life Span
Previously Deemed “Safe” Levels of Sugar May Reduce Life Span
Sugar intake in all of its forms has increased rapidly over recent decades. This mass consumption of sweets and sweeteners has shown a strong correlation to a wide array of lethal diseases. A study published in the journal Nature Communications by the Department of Biology at the University of Utah used rodent models to elucidate mechanisms of sugar toxicity, but only at concentrations beyond typical human exposure.*
In this new study, control mice were mixed with mice being fed human-relevant concentrations of added sugar.
The fructose/glucose-fed females experienced a twofold increase in mortality while fructose/glucose-fed males controlled 26% fewer territories and produced 25% less offspring. The findings show that comparatively low levels of added sugar consumption have substantial negative effects on mouse survival, competitive ability, and reproduction.
* Nat Commun. 2013 Aug 14;4:2245.
EPA Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Lowers Blood Glucose Levels in Overweight Diabetics
The results of a double-blinded trial published in the Singapore Medical Journal show positive effects for the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in overweight type II diabetics.*
Mahmoud Djalali and his associates at Tehran University of Medical Sciences randomized 67 overweight men and women with type II diabetes to receive 2,000 milligrams EPA or a corn oil placebo daily for 12 weeks. Blood samples collected before and after treatment were analyzed for hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c, a marker of long-term glucose control), fasting plasma glucose, and fasting serum insulin.
While plasma glucose, HbA1c, and serum insulin levels had increased by 4%, 3%, and 4% in the control group by the end of the study, they declined by 11%, 8%, and 3%, respectively, in those who received EPA. Insulin resistance also improved among those who received EPA.
Editor’s Note: The authors note that, in contrast with the findings of other studies with shorter durations, the current study’s length could account for the improvement observed in HbA1c, which represents average glucose concentration over the previous months.
* Singapore Med J. 2013 Jul;54(7):387-90.
Omega-3 Deficiency Could Contribute to Teen Psychological Disorders
Findings reported in Biological Psychiatry suggest that modern diets deficient in omega-3 fatty acids could be the culprit behind the prevalence of anxiety, hyperactivity, and poor cognition observed among many adolescents.*
By breeding successive generations of rats given diets containing reduced amounts of omega-3, Bita Moghaddam and colleagues created a model of the deficiency that has occurred in humans over the past several decades when animals used for meat were switched from an omega-3-rich grass-based diet to one based on grains. The researchers found an increase in anxiety and hyperactivity in deficient adolescent animals, as well as a reduction in the rate of learning in comparison to animals given diets that contained adequate amounts of omega-3. “We have always assumed that stress at this age is the main environmental insult that contributes to developing these conditions in at-risk individuals but this study indicates that nutrition is a big factor, too,” Dr. Moghaddam stated.
Editor’s Note: “We found that this dietary deficiency can compromise the behavioral health of adolescents, not only because their diet is deficient but because their parents’ diet was deficient as well,” Dr. Moghaddam remarked. “This is of particular concern because adolescence is a very vulnerable time for developing psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and addiction.”
* Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Jul 25.
High Intake of Red Meat Linked with Risk of Type II Diabetes
A review published in the journal Advances in Nutrition found an association between a high intake of red meat and an increased risk for type II diabetes.*
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and advanced lipoxidation end products (ALEs) were proposed as mechanisms, with iron as the potential link. Iron facilitates the formation of AGEs and ALEs during the processing and cooking of red meat.
The review included previous findings linking AGEs to insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion. In an animal model, AGEs inhibited insulin-producing cells.
The scientists conducting the review note that, “The level of contribution from iron to dietary protein oxidation and AGE development in processing is not known, but experimental laboratory testing of this should be carried out in meats with varying lipid contents and between red meat and other dietary AGEs.”
Editor’s Note: While too much iron is problematic, iron is a necessary dietary element which is deficient in many individuals, particularly premenopausal women.
* Adv Nutr. 2013 Jul 1;4(4):403-11.
Lower Risk of Mortality for Coffee and Tea Drinkers Over a Decade
In a recent issue of the Journal of Nutrition, an article was published showing a lower risk of mortality for coffee and tea drinkers over an 11-year average follow-up period.*
The study included 2,461 participants (over 40 years of age) and formed part of the Northern Manhattan Study. At baseline, participants were free of stroke, cancer, and myocardial infarction.
Researchers examined the association by food frequency questionnaire during an 11-year follow-up. The majority of participants were coffee and tea drinkers.
A 7% reduction in mortality was seen for each additional cup of coffee ingested per day. Strong protection was seen in those who drank 4 or more cups of regular caffeinated coffee. Additionally, a 9% decreased risk of mortality was seen for each increased cup of tea per day.
The proposed beneficial mechanism is the high antioxidant content of these beverages, although the researchers concluded that further study is needed.
Editor’s Note: The authors remark that chlorogenic acid contained in coffee may lower blood pressure via an increase in nitric oxide, thereby contributing to a reduction in premature mortality risk.
* J Nutr. 2013 Aug;143(8):1299-308.
Avoidance of Estrogen Replacement by Hysterectomized Women May Result in Lost Lives
In the American Journal of Public Health, Yale researchers estimate that over a 10-year span as many as 91,610 unnecessary deaths have occurred among women between the ages of 50 and 69 years old who had a hysterectomy yet had not availed themselves of estrogen replacement therapy due to fears of its adverse risks.*
Findings from the WHI study in 2002 indicated a greater risk of breast cancer and heart disease among women who used a combination of estrogen and progestin as hormone replacement therapy in comparison with those who received a placebo. Progestin is routinely combined with estrogen to protect against increased proliferation of the uterine lining that can result from using unopposed estrogen. However, in the study arm that investigated the use of estrogen alone (which is prescribed without progestin to women who have had hysterectomies) there was a decrease in the risk of breast cancer and heart disease and a lower rate of mortality over the course of the study.
* Am J Public Health. 2013 Sep;103(9):1583-8.
Iron May Be At Heart of Alzheimer’s Disease
A new study from the University of California-Los Angeles, suggests that iron accumulation in the brain may be at the core of Alzheimer’s disease.* While many researchers believe the disease is caused by either the tau or beta-amyloid proteins, Dr. George Bartzokis, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and senior author of the study, and his colleagues looked at two areas of the brain in patients with Alzheimer’s.
They compared the hippocampus, which is known to be damaged early in the disease, and the thalamus, an area that is generally not affected until the late stages.
“It is difficult to measure iron in tissue when the tissue is already damaged,” Dr. Bartzokis said. “But the MRI technology we used in this study allowed us to determine that the increase in iron is occurring together with the tissue damage. We found that the amount of iron is increased in the hippocampus and is associated with tissue damage in patients with Alzheimer’s but not in the healthy older individuals — or in the thalamus. So the results suggest that iron accumulation may indeed contribute to the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Editor’s Note: Life Extension® warned its members to avoid iron supplements in 1983 unless one was diagnosed as being iron deficient.
* Available at: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/29937. Accessed August 27, 2013.
More Positive Findings for EPA
An article that appeared in the journal Carcinogenesis reports an inhibitory effect for the long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which naturally occurs in fish and fish oil, against squamous cell carcinoma, a type of oral and skin cancer.*
Researchers at Queen Mary University of London tested the effect of EPA in cultures of oral and skin squamous cell carcinoma and in premalignant and normal epidermal cells. They found that the fatty acid inhibited the growth of malignant and premalignant cells and increased programmed cell death (apoptosis) of these cells.
Lead author Zacharoula Nikolakopoulou, PhD, commented that, “As the doses needed to kill the cancer cells do not affect normal cells, especially with one particular fatty acid we used called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), there is potential for using omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of skin and oral cancers.”
Editor’s Note: Squamous cells occur in the outermost layers of the skin, as well as in the lining of the digestive tract and other areas. Squamous cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer, as well as an oral cancer that is difficult to treat.
* Carcinogenesis. 2013 Jul 26.
Pre-Op Fatty Acids, Antioxidants Help Prevent Post-Operative Atrial Fibrillation
The results of a trial reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reveal a reduction in postoperative atrial fibrillation in men and women given omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamins C and E.*
Participants included 307 patients scheduled to undergo on-pump heart surgery. The subjects were randomized to receive a placebo or 2,000 mg eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)/docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) beginning seven days prior to surgery, and 1,000 mg vitamin C and 400 international units (IU) vitamin E beginning two days before surgery. Supplementation was continued until discharge from the hospital.
Postoperative atrial fibrillation occurred in 32% of subjects who received a placebo and just 9.7% of the supplemented group. Researchers Ramón Rodrigo and colleagues calculated that the placebo group had a 3.62 times greater risk of postoperative atrial fibrillation on any day in comparison with participants who received the supplements.
Editor’s Note: Atrial fibrillation is a type of heart arrhythmia that is a major risk factor for stroke and mortality when it occurs following cardiac surgery. Evidence suggests that oxidative stress may play a role in the development of this condition.
* J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013 Jul 31.
CoQ10 Supplementation Improves Glycemic Control, Lowers Cholesterol in Randomized Trial
A recent issue of Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica describes a trial conducted at Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran which found improved glycemic control and lower cholesterol levels among diabetics given coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).*
The trial included 64 men and women with type II diabetes who received 200 milligrams of coenzyme Q10 or a placebo for 12 weeks. Blood samples collected upon enrollment and at the trial’s conclusion were analyzed for glucose, hemoglobin A1C (a measure of long term glucose control), and lipids.
At the end of the trial, hemoglobin A1C, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol were reduced in the group that received CoQ10 but did not change significantly in the placebo group. “The results of this study showed that 12 weeks of CoQ10 supplementation can improve glycemic control, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol, but further studies are needed to confirm these findings,” the authors conclude.
Editor’s Note: In their discussion, authors R. Kolahdouz Mohammadi and colleagues comment that the elevation of blood glucose that occurs in diabetes can increase the generation of reactive oxygen species, which worsen diabetes complications and pancreatic beta cell dysfunction. The decreased antioxidant reserve observed in diabetics may be responsible for some of the benefits attributed to CoQ10 supplementation which, due to its antioxidant property, helps protect beta cells from glucose toxicity.
* Minerva Gastroenterol Dietol. 2013 Jun;59(2):231-6.