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February 2015

By Life Extension

Higher Vitamin E Intake Linked To Lower Blood Pressure

Higher Vitamin E Intake Linked To Lower Blood Pressure

An article published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology reveals an association between higher vitamin E intake and a reduced risk of hypertension.*

Akiko Kuwabara and associates evaluated data from 1,405 men and 2,102 women aged 40 and older who participated in Japan’s National Health and Nutrition Survey 2007. Dietary records were analyzed for the intake of vitamin E and other nutrients. The presence of hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or higher, diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or higher, or use of an antihypertensive drug.

Among participants whose vitamin E intake was among the top one-third of subjects, there was a 27% lower risk of hypertension, and for those among the middle third, the risk was 19% lower. Adjustment for increased intake of other blood-pressure-lowering nutrients failed to significantly affect the results.

Editor’s Note: “Oxidative damage and free-radical production in the endothelium are closely involved in the pathogenesis of the atherosclerotic process which leads to cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Kuwabara and colleagues explain. “Since vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with potent activity and one of its main physiological roles is considered to be the inhibition of unsaturated fatty acid oxidation, vitamin E is a promising candidate against oxidative stress-induced unfavorable consequences.”

Reference

* J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2014;60(4):239-45.

Greater Fiber Consumption Associated With Lower Mortality Risk

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published an article that reported a lower risk of dying from any cause over an average period of 5.9 years among men and women with a high intake of fiber.*

The study included 7,216 subjects at increased risk of cardiovascular disease enrolled in the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED) trial, which sought to evaluate the effects of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease prevention. Diet was assessed via a yearly questionnaire. Over an average of 5.9 years, 425 participants died, including 103 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 169 from cancer.

Among those whose intake of fiber at the beginning of the study was among the highest one-fifth of subjects at an average of 33 grams per day, there was a 37% lower adjusted risk of dying over follow-up in comparison with those whose intake was among the lowest fifth.

Editor’s Note: When fiber was examined by source, fruit emerged as significantly protective. Those whose fruit intake was greater than 210 grams per day experienced a 41% lower risk of mortality over follow-up compared with those who consumed less.

Reference

* Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Sep 10.

Tart Cherry Juice Could Help Improve Joint Symptoms

Tart Cherry Juice Could Help Improve Joint Symptoms

The Journal of Functional Foods published a report authored by researchers at Northumbria University, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, that revealed a benefit of tart cherry juice concentrate in reducing factors contributing to painful joints.*

In a single-blind, two-phase, randomized, crossover-designed study, Dr. Glyn Howatson and colleagues gave 30 or 60 mL Montmorency tart cherry juice to 12 healthy participants twice a day for two days. A washout period of 10 days or more separated each treatment phase. Blood and urine samples were collected before and after treatment.

Reductions in both serum C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, and urate, which is elevated during gout attacks, were observed following consumption of either dose of tart cherry juice concentrate.

Another Journal of Functional Foods study, which appeared online on September 2, revealed a positive effect for tart cherry intake to reduce oxidative damage.

Editor’s Note: “We have been investigating Montmorency tart cherries for several years because they’re a unique fruit with a high concentration of anthocyanins,” commented Dr. Howatson, from the Department of Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation, Northumbria University. “Our current study was conducted with a healthy population, although more research is needed to determine the specific benefits of Montmorency tart cherry juice for individuals with inflammatory diseases, including gout and other arthritic conditions.”

Reference

* J Funct Foods . 2014 Nov;11:82-90.

Vitamin D Deficiency Common In Men And Women Undergoing Thyroidectomy

Vitamin D Deficiency Common In Men And Women Undergoing Thyroidectomy

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, September 21-24, 2014, was the site of a presentation of research conducted at Henry Ford Hospital regarding widespread vitamin D deficiency among individuals undergoing surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland.* Deficient vitamin D levels increase the risk of potentially dangerous low postoperative calcium levels—a condition that could easily be prevented by vitamin D supplementation.

The study included 110 patients who underwent thyroidectomy for benign or malignant disease in 2013. Vitamin D, calcium, and parathyroid hormone levels were measured before surgery. Forty percent of the participants were classified as vitamin D deficient, which was defined as having a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 20 ng/mL or less. Deficient subjects were prescribed a course of vitamin D supplementation that was completed before their surgeries.

Editor’s Note: “The issue of vitamin D deficiency in patients who are undergoing thyroid surgery can potentially impact both the care of parathyroid glands during surgery and calcium management after surgery,” noted study co-author Hamad Chaudhary, MD, of Henry Ford’s Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. “By routinely checking vitamin D levels in all patients scheduled for thyroid surgery or selectively testing those at great risk, we may be able to improve surgical outcomes and shorten hospital stays.”

Reference

* American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Annual Meeting, September 21-24, 2014.

Vitamin D Derivative Could Help Treat Pancreatic Cancer

Vitamin D Derivative Could Help Treat Pancreatic Cancer

An article in Cell reports a potential benefit for a synthetic derivative of vitamin D in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.* The compound works by changing a tumor’s microenvironment. The microenvironment, when activated by tumor cells, fuels cancer growth and impedes the entry of immune cells or cancer drugs.

In previous research, the Salk Institute scientists found that a modified form of vitamin D inactivated liver stellate cells, which become activated during injury. Chronic activation of stellate cells that occurs near a tumor fuels its growth as well as surrounding it with a barrier. After uncovering high levels of the vitamin D receptor in activated stellate cells in the pancreatic tumor microenvironment, the researchers found that the vitamin D derivative caused the cells to revert back to their quiescent state. When tested in a mouse model, administration of the compound with chemotherapy resulted in a 57% increase in survival in comparison with chemotherapy alone.

Editor’s Note: “It’s really remarkable considering that vitamin D itself is not attacking the cancer cells,” commented report co-author Michael Downes, who is a senior staff scientist at the Salk Institute. “It’s changing the environment to a more favorable setting needed for the chemotherapy drugs to work.”

Reference

* Cell. 2014 Sep 25.

Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor Improves Liver Function In Alcoholic Hepatitis

Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor Improves Liver Function In Alcoholic Hepatitis

A study reported in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found a benefit for the administration of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (GCSF) in patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis, a condition with high short-term mortality.*

Among 46 men who received standard medical therapy for severe alcoholic hepatitis, 23 received subcutaneous GCSF twice daily for five days. CD34+ cells (whose mobilization in peripheral blood is a marker for hematopoietic stem cell mobilization) were measured in peripheral blood samples, and liver function was assessed before and after treatment, and at one, two, and three months.

Treatment with GCSF resulted in higher CD34+ cells on the sixth day of the study in comparison with levels measured prior to treatment. At day 90 of the study, 18 patients who received standard medical treatment alone had died in comparison with 5 among those who also received GCSF.

Editor’s Note: Median changes in clinical scores that evaluated liver failure and prognosis were reduced at one, two, and three months in GCSF patients in comparison with those who did not receive it. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (GCSF) is an expensive prescription drug administered by intramuscular injection under the care of a physician experienced in using the drug.

Reference

* Am J Gastroenterol. 2014 Sep;109(9):1417-23.

Curcumin May Help Fight Mesothelioma

Curcumin May Help Fight Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs that is largely attributable to asbestos exposure, could face a worthy opponent in the form of curcumin, a compound that occurs in the spice turmeric, according to research reported in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.*

Ashfin Dowlati and colleagues measured mesothelioma tumor expression of PIAS3 (protein inhibitor of activated STAT3), which is correlated with overall survival. They additionally evaluated the effects of PIAS3 activity on the intracellular protein and transcription factor STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3), which can trigger cancer onset and growth. “In those mesothelioma patients where PIAS3 is low, indeed STAT3 is activated,” reported Dr. Dowlati.

The team found that STAT3 down regulation, via enhanced expression of PIAS3 or exposure to a peptide derived from PIAS3, inhibited cell growth and increased apoptosis in cancer cells. Administration of curcumin resulted in PIAS3 induction, indicating a potential role for the compound in mesothelioma therapy.

Editor’s Note: “Our findings suggest that PIAS3 expression positively affects survival in mesothelioma patients and that PIAS3 activation could become a therapeutic strategy,” Dr. Dowlati commented. “Our interest for the future is that we want to find better, more simple ways to increase intracellular levels of PIAS3 for malignant mesothelioma through the use of synthetic PIAS3 peptide or curcumin analogs.”

Reference

* Clin Cancer Res . 2014, Aug14.

Curcumin Quiets Crosstalk In Tumor Cellular Environment

Curcumin Quiets Crosstalk In Tumor Cellular Environment

An article published in PLOS One reported that BCM-95® curcumin altered the microenvironment of a colorectal cancer cell culture model, thereby reducing tumor-promoting factors and potentially enhancing chemotherapy effectiveness.*

Constanze Buhrmann and associates cultured human colon cancer cells with human stromal fibroblast cells for three days. They observed clustering of the cancer cells around the stromal cells, which established close cell-to-cell contact. This cellular interaction was associated with increased expression of adhesion and metastatic molecules, active cell cycle proteins, transforming growth factor-beta 3 (TGF-b3), and vimentin, which is a marker of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT).

The team then employed a high-density tumor microenvironment in which colon cancer cells were co-cultured with stromal cells and treated with varying concentrations of BCM-95® curcumin and/or the chemotherapeutic drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). While 5-FU alone was associated with an increase in tumor-promoting factors, TGF-b3 and EMT, pretreatment with curcumin prior to 5-FU administration reduced these factors.

Editor’s Note: Treatment with 5-FU and/or curcumin promoted disintegration of high-density tumor spheres, an effect that was greater in curcumin-treated co-cultures.

Reference

* PLoS One. 2014 Sep 19;9(9):e107514.

Melatonin Improves Mitochondrial Function In Rat Model Of Diabetes

Melatonin Improves Mitochondrial Function In Rat Model Of Diabetes

The Journal of Pineal Research published an article that reported a protective effect for melatonin on mitochondrial function in obese rats.*

“Because mitochondria are a target for melatonin action, the goal of this study was to investigate the effects of melatonin on mitochondrial function in white and beige inguinal adipose tissue of Zücker diabetic fatty rats,” write authors Ahmad Agil and colleagues.

The team divided eight diabetic rats and eight lean littermates to receive melatonin-enhanced or plain drinking water for six weeks, after which mitochondrial function was evaluated. They observed improvement in mitochondrial respiration and a reduction in oxidative status among both lean and obese animals that received melatonin.

“Melatonin is a natural substance present in plants, animals, and humans; it works as a hormonal signal released during the night to establish circadian rhythms,” said Dr. Agil.

Editor’s Note: In addition to being found in a number of plant foods, melatonin is available as an over-the-counter supplement.

Reference

* J Pineal Res . 2014 Aug;57(1):103-9.

Reduced B Vitamins Predict Increased Obesity In Children

Reduced B Vitamins Predict Increased Obesity In Children

A study described in the Journal of Nutrition found an association between reductions in several B vitamins and an increase in body mass index and other indicators of obesity in children between the ages of 8 and 15.*

Researchers at the University of Queensland evaluated data from 1,131 Mexican-American children who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001-2004. Blood samples were analyzed for serum vitamin B12 and folate levels, and dietary questionnaire responses provided information concerning B vitamin intake.

Body mass index (BMI), trunk fat mass, and total body fat mass were all found to increase with age. Children whose weight was normal had higher average serum vitamin B12 levels compared to those who were overweight or obese. Greater vitamin B12 and folate levels were associated with lower BMI and total body fat mass.

Editor’s Note: When B vitamin dietary intake was examined, consuming more thiamine, riboflavin, and folate was associated with a lower body mass index.

Reference

* J Nutr. 2014 Oct 8.

Vitamin D Supplementation Helpful For Childhood Atopic Dermatitis

According to a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, children with winter-related atopic dermatitis may benefit from vitamin D supplementation.*

Acting on the findings of a preliminary investigation, Carlos Camargo Jr, MD, DrPH, and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind trial of 107 children with atopic dermatitis: a chronic, inflammatory skin disease that is a form of eczema. Those enrolled in the current study experienced worsening of their symptoms during the autumn to winter transition or in cold weather. The subjects were divided to receive 1,000 IU vitamin D or a placebo daily for one month.

At the end of the treatment period, vitamin D supplementation was associated with an improvement in the Eczema Area and Severity Index and Investigator’s Global Assessment in comparison with the placebo group.

Editor’s Note: “In this large group of patients, who probably had low levels of vitamin D, taking daily vitamin D supplements, which are inexpensive, safe, and widely available, proved to be quite helpful,” Dr. Camargo commented.

Reference

* J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Oct;134(4):831-835.