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.
Umbrella review of meta-analysis concludes multiple benefits for Mediterranean diet
January 15 2018. An umbrella review (a meta-analysis of meta-analyses) of studies that investigated the benefits of a Mediterranean eating pattern adds evidence to a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, heart attack, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes in association with greater adherence to the diet.
“To the best of our knowledge, no attempts of reviewing the existing literature through an umbrella review in this issue has been conducted,” note authors M. Dinu and colleagues at the University of Florence, Italy.
A Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, fish and olive oil, moderate alcohol consumption, and a lower intake of red meat and butter. The results of the review were reported in the January 2018 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Dr Dinu and colleagues selected 13 meta-analyses of observational studies and 16 meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials that investigated the effects of a Mediterranean diet on 37 health outcomes among a total of over 12,827,449 subjects. Associations were confirmed between greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, heart attack, overall cancer incidence and cancer mortality, overall cancer incidence, breast cancer, neurodegenerative disease, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, diabetes and overall mortality over follow-up. The researchers also uncovered suggestive evidence supporting the value of the diet in lowering total cholesterol and increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.“This umbrella review provides a comprehensive resume of the published meta-analyses in relation to the Mediterranean diet and health outcomes, and maps the status of evidence,” the authors conclude.
Mediterranean diet associated with lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer
Beatriz Perez-Gomez, PhD, and colleagues evaluated data from 754 men with prostate cancer and 1,277 controls who participated in the Multicase-Control study on Common Tumors in Spain, conducted from September 2008 to December 2013. Dietary intake data identified Western (characterized by the consumption of large amounts of fatty dairy products, refined grains, processed meat, caloric beverages, sweets, fast food, and sauces); prudent (which combines vegetables and fruit with low fat dairy products, whole grains and juices) and Mediterranean dietary patterns.
Among subjects whose adherence to a Mediterranean diet (which included fish, boiled potatoes, whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, and olive oil, and low consumption of juices) was among the top 25% of participants, the risk of aggressive prostate cancer was 32% lower than those whose adherence was among the lowest quarter. Participants whose adherence was among the second highest 25% experienced a similar reduction. The risk of having a higher clinical prostate cancer stage among participants whose Mediterranean diet adherence was among the highest 25% was half that of subjects whose adherence was lowest. Prudent and Western patterns had no relationship with prostate cancer risk.
"This study adds important evidence to the scarce information regarding the association of diet with prostate cancer, and highlights the relevance of focusing on global dietary patterns," Dr Perez-Gomez commented. "Our results show that a diet oriented towards the prevention of aggressive tumors in the prostate should probably include important elements of the Mediterranean diet such as fish, legumes, and olive oil, and suggest that a high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains might not be enough."
Meta-analysis adds evidence to association between omega-3 supplementation and lower heart rate
January 10 2018. On December 28, 2017 the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a meta-analysis that affirmed an association between supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids and a decrease in heart rate. According to authors Khemayanto Hidayat of Soochow University and colleagues, elevated resting heart rate has emerged as a risk factor for cardiovascular mortality and all-cause mortality.
Dr Hidayat and associates selected 51 randomized controlled trials that included a total of approximately 3,000 men and women for their analysis. Thirty-two of the intervention groups consisted of participants with at least one chronic condition, including coronary artery disease, kidney failure, hypertension and frequent premature ventricular contraction (a type of heart arrhythmia).
In comparison with those who received a placebo, participants who received omega 3 experienced a significant reduction in heart rate of 2.23 beats per minute. When the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA were administered separately, a 2.47 beat per minute decrease was observed in association with DHA.
“The heart rate of the majority of participants included in this meta-analysis was within normal range—the state where reducing heart rate is conventionally not a medical indication,” the authors note. “At the population level however, such heart rate reduction may have significant public health implications, as a reduction of 3.2 beats per minute heart rate would roughly correspond to 7.5% lower risk of sudden cardiac death.”
“This present meta-analysis can have valuable public health and clinical implications for incorporation of omega 3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation as a lifestyle modification for reducing all-cause mortality among general populations, and for reducing the risk of sudden cardiac death, particularly in those who do not consume enough fatty fish on a regular basis,” they conclude.
Prenatal folic acid, multivitamin use by women associated with lower autism risk in their children
January 08 2018. An article appearing on January 3, 2018 in JAMA Psychiatry reports a decrease in the risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) among children born to women who supplemented with folic acid and/or multivitamins before and during pregnancy in comparison with children whose mothers did not use the supplements.
The case-control study included 45,300 children born during 2003-2007 who were followed up to 2015. Health care registers provided information concerning multivitamins and folic acid dispensed to the mothers and ASD diagnoses among their children.
Of the children included in the study, 1.3% received autism diagnoses. Women who used folic acid and/or multivitamin supplements prior to their pregnancies had a 61% lower risk of their children developing an ASD compared to women who did not use the supplements. For women who used folic acid and/or multivitamin supplements during pregnancy, the risk was 73% lower.
When the use of folic acid was examined separately, the risk having a child diagnosed with autism was 44% lower among children of women who supplemented with the vitamin before pregnancy, and 68% lower among children born to women who used folic acid during pregnancy. Multivitamin use before and during pregnancy was associated with a respective 64% and 65% reduction.
“Unique to our study, to our knowledge, is the ability to examine the association between multivitamin exposure and ASD for an extended period preceding pregnancy,” Stephen Z. Levine, PhD, and colleagues write. “Maternal exposure to folic acid and multivitamin supplements 2 years before pregnancy was associated with a reduced risk of ASD in offspring.”
“Reduced risk of ASD in offspring is a consideration for public health policy that may be realized by extended use of folic acid and multivitamin supplements during pregnancy,” they conclude.
Higher dose vitamin D associated with decreased arterial stiffness
January 05 2018. On December 7, 2017 in PLOS ONE, researchers from Augusta University reported their finding of improvement in arterial stiffness among men and women who received 2000 or 4000 IU of vitamin D for 4 months. Greater arterial stiffness is an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular mortality.
"When your arteries are more stiff, you have higher pulse wave velocity, which increases your risk of cardiometabolic disease in the future," explained lead author Anas Raed. "We think maybe in the future, when you go to your physician, he or she might check your arterial stiffness as another indicator of how healthy you are."
The trial included 70 overweight African-Americans who had arterial stiffness. Participants received a placebo or monthly supplementation with vitamin D3 that provided the equivalent of 600 IU, 2,000 IU or 4,000 IU per day for 16 weeks. Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity and carotid-radial pulse wave velocity were assessed at the beginning of the study and at its conclusion.
Pulse wave velocity measurements declined from values obtained before treatment with the two higher vitamin D doses, with the greatest benefit associated with the 4,000 IU dose. Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity decreased by 10.4% and carotid-radial velocity by 8% at the end of the study among those who received 4,000 IU vitamin D, while the placebo group experienced an increase in both measurements.
“To our knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial regarding dose-ranging vitamin D supplementation on measures of arterial stiffness in overweight African-Americans with vitamin D deficiency,” the authors announced.
They note that vitamin D supplementation is inexpensive and safe, and recommend larger trials in which participants can be followed for longer periods. "A year would give us even more data and ideas," Dr Raed noted.
Vitamin C boosts tuberculosis therapy
January 03 2018. An article appearing in in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy reveals a benefit for the addition of vitamin C to first-line treatments for tuberculosis (TB) in experiments that utilized mice infected with the disease. While drug therapy is effective, treatment of drug susceptible tuberculosis takes six months, which, according to lead researcher William R. Jacobs, Jr, PhD, of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Einstein College of Medicine, can result “in some treatment mismanagement, potentially leading to the emergence and spread of drug-resistant TB.”
Dr Jacobs and his associates tested the effects of isoniazid and rifampicin, vitamin C, or the drugs plus vitamin C in Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected mice. At four and six weeks, Mycobacterium tuberculosis organ burdens were assessed.
While vitamin C alone had no activity, adding it to the drugs decreased the time needed to reduce Mycobacterium tuberculosis organ burdens compared to drug treatment alone. A treatment-accelerating effect was also observed when vitamin C was added to tuberculosis-infected cell cultures. "Our study shows that the addition of vitamin C to TB drug treatment potentiates the killing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and could shorten TB chemotherapy," Dr Jacobs reported.
Earlier research found that lower doses of vitamin C stimulate respiration which, in the presence of tuberculosis drugs, leads to the cells’ rapid demise. "Thus, in our new paper, we postulate that vitamin C is stimulating respiration of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis cells in mice, thus enabling the action of isoniazid and rifampicin," Dr Jacobs stated.
"Vitamin C is known to be safe and our current mouse studies suggest that vitamin C could enhance TB chemotherapy," he concluded. "A clinical trial of vitamin C with TB chemotherapies could demonstrate that such an adjunct therapy could reduce patients' exposure to toxic TB drugs and also reduce the spread of TB from infected individuals."