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.
Research adds evidence to protective effect of coffee against cognitive decline
November 30 2016. The nonprofit Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC)’s “Nutrition, Coffee and Age-Related Cognitive Decline” symposium, held during the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society's 2016 Congress in Lisbon, Portugal was the site of presentations by European researchers of the latest research concerning the protective effect of coffee drinking against neurodegeneration, including Alzheimer’s disease. The findings were published in the November 2016 ISIC report titled, “Coffee & Health.”
Among the findings presented were the results of a 2016 meta-analysis of prospective studies published in Nutrition which associated an increased amount coffee drinking with 27% reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
One mechanism supporting coffee’s neuroprotective role may be caffeine. In a study of subjects with mild cognitive impairment, those with high plasma caffeine levels of 1,200 nanograms per milliliter or more experienced no conversion to dementia over a two to four year period. Antioxidant compounds in coffee that include caffeic acid may also contribute to the beverage’s beneficial effect.
The greatest protective effect for coffee against cognitive decline has been observed among individuals who consume three to five cups per day. According to the European Food Safety Authority, the amount of caffeine in up to five cups of coffee per day is considered safe for healthy individuals.
"Healthcare professionals have an important part to play in providing patients with accurate research-based information, to help them to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle, and in turn, reduce their risk of age-related cognitive decline,” commented symposium speaker Rodrigo A. Cunha, who is a principal investigator at the Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of the University of Coimbra in Portugal. “Moderate coffee consumption could play a significant role in reducing cognitive decline which would impact health outcomes and healthcare spending across Europe."
Higher levels of inflammation marker predict premature mortality
November 28 2016. A study reported on November 28, 2016 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that, of three markers of inflammation evaluated, interleukin-6 (IL-6) was the most successful at predicting death from cancer or all causes over a 16.7 year average.
The research involved 6,551 participants in England’s Whitehall II study, which recruited men and women between the ages of 35 and 55 years from 1985 to 1988. Blood samples obtained during 1997-1999 were analyzed for levels of markers of inflammation that included C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 and α1-acid glycoprotein (AGP). Mortality data through May 2015 was obtained from the British national mortality register. Over a 16.7 year period, 736 deaths occurred among the current study’s subjects, including 181 caused by cardiovascular disease and 347 due to cancer.
While higher AGP levels had an association with all-cause and cancer mortality during the initial five years of the follow-up period, IL-6 emerged as the only marker that predicted death from all causes or cancer over the entire follow-up. Additionally, CRP levels were found to predict cardiovascular deaths. In a fully adjusted model, having an IL-6 level among the top one-third of participants was associated with a 53% greater risk of dying from any cause and a 19% higher risk of dying from cancer over follow-up in comparison with the lowest third.
"When a recent metabolomics study highlighted the importance of AGP, our question was how relevant is this marker when compared to other known inflammatory markers,” lead author Archana Singh-Manoux noted. “The novelty of our approach lies in being able to assess risk of mortality in the short- and long-term. Our findings show IL-6, which is already known to be important to heart disease, to do better than AGP."
Compounds put mouse embryos on hold
November 25 2016. A letter published on November 23, 2016 in Nature details the finding of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco of a method to put the development of a pre-implantation embryo called a blastocyst in a state of suspended animation.
The discovery came about during an investigation concerning how drugs known as mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors slow cell growth in mouse blastocysts. The researchers found that the drugs suspended blastocyst development for up to a month.
"mTOR is this beautiful regulator of developmental timing that works by being a nutrient sensor,” explained senior author and an associate professor of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive sciences Miguel Ramalho-Santos, PhD. “It doesn't just drive cells into growing willy-nilly; it tunes cell growth based on the level of nutrients that are available in the environment."
The process of suspended development observed in the study is similar to an ability of many animals to pause early pregnancy during food scarcity or other sources of stress. Normal growth was demonstrated to resume upon discontinuance of the drugs and implantation of the embryos into mouse mothers resulted in the development of healthy animals. Cultured mouse embryonic stem cells derived from blastocysts were also found to enter a suspended state when exposed to mTOR inhibitors.
The technique could prove useful in assisted reproduction to avoid the need to freeze embryos and allow time to test fertilized blastocysts for defects prior to implantation. The researchers predict that the suspended state could last longer than the thirty days attained in the current research. “Our dormant blastocysts are eventually dying when they run out of some essential metabolite within them,” noted lead author Aydan Bulut-Karslioglu, PhD. “If we could supply those limiting nutrients in the culture medium, we should be able to sustain them even longer."
Trial finds benefit for vitamin D3 supplements in autistic children
November 23 2016. Findings from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) revealed improvement in symptoms of the disorder among those who received vitamin D3. The findings were reported on November 21, 2106 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
“This study is the ﬁrst double-blinded randomized, controlled trial proving the efﬁcacy of vitamin D3 in ASD patients,” Dr Khaled Saad of Egypt’s Assiut University and colleagues announce.
The trial included 85 boys and 24 girls between the ages of 3 and 10 years diagnosed with ASD. The children were randomized to receive 300 IU vitamin D3 per kilogram daily or a placebo for four months. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, autism severity and social maturity were assessed at the beginning and end of the study.
"Autism symptoms--such as hyperactivity, social withdrawal, and others--improved significantly following vitamin D3 supplementation but not after receiving placebo," Dr Saad reported.
“Depending on the parameters measured in the study, oral vitamin D supplementation may safely improve signs and symptoms of ASD and could be recommended for children with ASD,” the authors conclude. “At this stage, this study is a single randomized, controlled trial with a small number of patients, and a great deal of additional wide-scale studies are needed to critically validate the efﬁcacy of vitamin D in ASD.”
Female hormone replacement therapy associated with better bone structure
November 21 2016. An article appearing in the December 1, 2016 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reports that menopausal hormone therapy may not only improve bone mineral density but also helps maintain bone structure.
“Menopausal hormone therapy favorably affects bone mineral density (BMD),” write Georgios Papadakis, MD, and colleagues at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland. “Whether menopausal hormone therapy also affects bone microarchitecture, as assessed by trabecular bone score (TBS), has never been evaluated.”
The current investigation included 1,279 participants in the OsteoLaus Cohort, which enrolled 1,500 Swiss women between the ages of 50 and 80 years. Twenty-two percent of the current study’s participants were using hormone replacement, 30% were past users and the remainder had never used the therapy. Dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans of the lumbar spine, femoral neck and hip provided data used to determine bone mineral density and Trabecular Bone Score—an assessment of underlying bone structure that can help predict fracture risk.
Among current hormone therapy users, Trabecular Bone Scores as well as bone mineral density values were significantly higher in comparison with past users or never users. Past users had higher bone mineral density at the lumbar spine and hip and a trend toward higher TBS than those who had never used hormone therapy. Duration of therapy was not associated with bone health.
"When used in the right context, specifically in postmenopausal women younger than 60 years old for whom the benefits outweigh risks, menopausal hormonal therapy is effective for both the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis," Dr Papadakis stated. "Women at menopause should take note of this study, because its results can help optimize the use of menopausal hormone treatment in women at risk of osteoporosis.”
Fiber protects colonic mucosa
November 18 2016. The November 17, 2016 issue of Cell reported the finding of an international team of researchers of a protective effect for fiber against the ability of pathogenic microorganisms to penetrate and infect the walls of the colon.
Eric Martens, PhD, and colleagues examined the effect of dietary fiber in mice lacking gut microbes. The animals were implanted with 14 normal human gastrointestinal bacteria and given diets that contained varying amounts of fiber or no fiber. Some of the mice received the bacterium Citrobacter rodentium, which, similar to E. Coli, causes infections associated with inflammation and diarrhea.
Animals that received Citrobacter rodentium in addition to a diet consisting of 15% fiber from grains and plants retained thick colonic mucus that didn’t permit infection to take hold, but in mice that received a fiber-free diet, the microbes began to consume the colonic mucus barrier and the animals showed signs of illness. Bacteria that thrived in mice that consumed low and no fiber diets were those capable of manufacturing enzymes able to break down glycoproteins that form the mucus barrier. This effect was observed even with occasional fiber deprivation.
"The lesson we're learning from studying the interaction of fiber, gut microbes and the intestinal barrier system is that if you don't feed them, they can eat you," stated Dr Martens, who is an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Michigan Medical School. "While this work was in mice, the take-home message from this work for humans amplifies everything that doctors and nutritionists have been telling us for decades: Eat a lot of fiber from diverse natural sources. Your diet directly influences your microbiota, and from there it may influence the status of your gut's mucus layer and tendency toward disease."
Meta-analysis adds evidence to ginger’s anti-inflammatory effect
November 16 2016. A systematic review and meta-analysis reported on the November 1, 2016 in Food & Nutrition Research affirms an association between supplementing with ginger and a reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP, a marker of inflammation), in addition to improved lipids, glucose, and hemoglobin A1c (which measures long-term glucose control).
Mohsen Mazidi, of Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues selected nine controlled trials that included a total of 449 subjects for their analysis. Ginger doses ranged from 1 to 3 grams per day consumed for 8 weeks to 3 months.
Pooled data revealed an average reduction of 0.84 milligrams per liter (mg/L) CRP in association with ginger supplementation. The decrease in CRP was not found to be dependent on the dose of ginger consumed. Fasting blood glucose averaged 1.35 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) lower and hemoglobin A1c was reduced by an average of 1 percentage point. Among lipids, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol increased by an average of 1.16 mg/dL and triglycerides averaged 1.63 mg/dL lower.
As potential mechanisms, the authors note that ginger has been proposed to lower cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2, an enzyme involved in inflammation), and inhibit the expression of nuclear factor-kappa beta (NF-kB) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). Ginger’s blood glucose-lowering property has been suggested to be due to its phenol, polyphenol and flavonoid content.
“This systematic review showed that ginger supplementation can improve CRP level, glycaemia indexes, and lipid profile, which can be useful for the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease,” Dr Mazidi and colleagues conclude. “Randomized clinical trials with a larger sample size and a longer follow up period should be considered for future investigations to give an unequivocal answer as to whether ginger can reduce CRP and improve glycaemia indexes and lipid profile.”
Omega 3 rich diet associated with lower blood pressure in young adults
November 14 2016. The American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2016, held this month in New Orleans, was the site of a presentation of the finding a lower risk of hypertension in young men and women who had higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids compared with those with lower levels.
“Omega 3 fatty acids may have blood pressure lowering effects in untreated hypertensive and elderly patients,” Mark G. Filipovic of Cantonal Hospital of Baden, Switzerland and colleagues write. “Yet, the effects of omega 3 fatty acids in an earlier stage, i.e. on the blood pressure of normotensives and young healthy adults remain unknown.”
Dr. Filipovic and his associates evaluated data from 2,036 participants in Liechtenstein’s GAPP study who were between the ages of 25 to 41 years and did not have cardiovascular disease, known diabetes or elevated body mass index. Omega-3 Index, which is the percentage of the omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) among total fatty acids in red blood cells, was obtained from blood sample analysis.
The researchers uncovered an association between a higher Omega-3 Index and lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Men and women whose Omega-3 Index was among the top 25% of subjects had average systolic blood pressure that was 4 mmHg lower and diastolic pressure that was 2 mmHg lower than blood pressure measured among those whose Index was among the lowest 25%.
“A higher Omega-3 Index is significantly associated with clinically relevant lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels in young healthy individuals,” the authors conclude. “Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids (and potentially supplements) may be a strategy for primary prevention of hypertension.”
Higher vitamin D levels linked with improved breast cancer survival
November 11 2016. The March 2017 issue of JAMA Oncology reported the outcome of a study conducted by researchers from Kaiser Permanente and Roswell Park Cancer Institute which found improved overall survival in breast cancer patients whose serum vitamin D levels were highest.
The study included 1,666 women with invasive breast cancer who enrolled in the Pathways Study of breast cancer survivors beginning in 2006. Blood samples collected after diagnosis were analyzed for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Follow-ups conducted at 12, 24, 48, 72 and 96 months provided information on health outcomes.
"With the extremely rich data sources from a large sample size, we were able to prospectively analyze three major breast cancer outcomes -- recurrence, second primary cancer and death," noted lead author Song Yao, PhD, of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. "We were also able to adjust for multiple possible contributing factors that could influence vitamin D levels, such as age, obesity, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and several tumor characteristics that are known to influence breast cancer outcomes -- to ensure that the effects we observed were independent of these factors.”
"We found that women with the highest levels of vitamin D levels had about a 30 percent better likelihood of survival than women with the lowest levels of vitamin D," reported lead investigator Lawrence H. Kushi, ScD, of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research." The effect was even stronger among premenopausal women.
"The more we know about vitamin D, the more we understand that it may play a key role in cancer prevention and prognosis," Dr. Kushi added. “This study adds to the evidence that vitamin D is an important nutrient."
Review affirms association between decreased vitamin D levels and elevated bladder cancer risk
November 9 2016. The conclusion of a systematic review reported on November 8, 2016 at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Brighton, England adds evidence to an association between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of bladder cancer.
“Vitamin D deficiency is associated with the development of some cancers and in vitro 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25D) reduces cell proliferation,” write Dr. Rosemary Bland and colleagues at England’s University of Warwick and University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire. “We suggest that modification of tissue specific immune responses, as a consequence of local synthesis of 1,25D, may be key.”
Dr Bland and her associates reviewed seven studies whose subjects ranged in number from 112 to 1125. Five of the studies found associations between decreased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and a higher risk of bladder cancer. Additionally, higher vitamin D levels were associated with improved bladder cancer outcomes and survival.
To investigate their hypothesis, the team evaluated the expression of vitamin D signaling components and synthesis of the active form of vitamin D in human transitional epithelial cells which line the bladder. They discovered that the cells have the capacity to activate and respond to vitamin D, which then stimulates an immune system response. "More clinical studies are required to test this association, but our work suggests that low levels of vitamin D in the blood may prevent the cells within the bladder from stimulating an adequate response to abnormal cells," Dr Bland explained. "As vitamin D is cheap and safe, its potential use in cancer prevention is exciting and could potentially impact on the lives of many people."
Latest vitamin D research suggests life span link and much more
November 7 2016. New understanding of vitamin D's manifold benefits continues to expand. In an investigation published in the October 25, 2016 issue of Cell Reports, a team from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging found that the vitamin extended median lifespan by a third in the roundworm C. elegans and helped support protein homeostasis: the ability of proteins to maintain shape and function. "Vitamin D3 reduced the age-dependent formation of insoluble proteins across a wide range of predicted functions and cellular compartments, supporting our hypothesis that decreasing protein insolubility can prolong lifespan," reported research team leader Karla Mark, PhD.
"Vitamin D engaged with known longevity genes - it extended median lifespan by 33 percent and slowed the aging-related misfolding of hundreds of proteins in the worm," explained senior author Gordon Lithgow, PhD. "Our findings provide a real connection between aging and disease and give clinicians and other researchers an opportunity to look at vitamin D in a much larger context."
"Vitamin D3, which is converted into the active form of vitamin D, suppressed protein insolubility in the worm and prevented the toxicity caused by human beta-amyloid which is associated with Alzheimer's disease," he added. "Given that aging processes are thought to be similar between the worm and mammals, including humans, it makes sense that the action of vitamin D would be conserved across species as well."
"Maybe if you're deficient in vitamin D, you're aging faster," Dr Lithgow speculated. "Maybe that's why you're more susceptible to cancer or Alzheimer's. Given that we had responses to vitamin D in an organism that has no bone suggests that there are other key roles, not related to bone, that it plays in living organisms."
Carotenoid shows promise against smoking-induced lung cancer
November 4 2016. The November 2016 issue of Cancer Prevention Research contains the finding of researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University of a protective effect for the carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin against lung cancer caused by smoking. The carotenoid is found in plant foods such as sweet red peppers and tangerines.
The study utilized a strain of mice that develops lung tumors after exposure to the carcinogen NNK found in tobacco. Beginning two weeks prior to NNK, some of the animals were supplemented for 16 weeks with low or high doses of beta-cryptoxanthin that were comparable to amounts obtainable by humans in their diets.
Animals that received beta-cryptoxanthin had higher lung and serum levels of the carotenoid while experiencing 52-63% fewer lung tumors than unsupplemented mice. Those that received the higher dose had the strongest response. Researchers Xiang-Dong Wang, MD, PhD, and his associates also determined that beta-cryptoxanthin reduces tumor cell migration and invasion.
"For smokers, tobacco product users or individuals at higher risk for tobacco smoke exposure, our results provide experimental evidence that eating foods high in beta-cryptoxanthin may have a beneficial effect on lung cancer risk, as suggested by previous epidemiological studies," stated Dr Wang, who is a senior scientist and director of the Nutrition and Cancer Biology Laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts.
"Our study is the first to demonstrate that beta-cryptoxanthin prevents overproduction of the alpha7 nicotine receptor, which represents a possible mechanism for how beta-cryptoxanthin inhibits the development of lung tumors," he added. "While we believe beta-cryptoxanthin has preventive or therapeutic potential against lung cancer, additional studies are required as human biology cannot be fully mimicked by cell and animal models."
Supplementation with vitamins C and E associated with decreased risk of cognitive impairment, dementia
November 2 2016.An article that appeared on October 4, 2016 in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy reports an association between the intake of vitamin C and E supplements and a lower risk of developing cognitive decline among men and women aged 65 years and older.
The current investigation included 5,269 men and women who were free of dementia upon enrollment in the Canadian Study of Health and Aging from 1991 to 1992. Follow-up examinations conducted during 1996-1997 and 2001-2002 provided post-enrollment diagnoses of dementia or cognitive impairment without dementia. Information concerning current use of prescription drugs and vitamins was ascertained from interview or questionnaire responses at the beginning of the study.
Approximately 10% of the subjects reported using vitamin C or E. Over up to 11 years of follow up, 821 cases of all-cause dementia (including 560 Alzheimer’s disease cases) were diagnosed and 882 cases of cognitive impairment without dementia developed. In comparison with those who did not report supplementing with either vitamin, the use of vitamin C and/or vitamin E was associated with a 38% lower adjusted risk of all-cause dementia and a 40% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. For cognitive impairment without dementia, the risk was 23% lower among those who used either or both vitamins. Evaluation of the effects of using either vitamin alone resulted in associations with similar risk reductions.
“This study supports a protective role of vitamin E and C supplements in the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and all-cause dementia,” authors Luta L. Basambombo, MSc, of CHU de Québec Research Center and colleagues conclude. “In addition, these supplements may contribute to a reduced risk of CIND [cognitive impairment, not dementia]. Overall, these findings indicate additional support for the use of antioxidants as a preventive strategy against cognitive decline.”