By Life Extension
Nighttime Fasting Reduces Breast Cancer Risk
According to a study published in JAMA Oncology, fasting for more than 13 hours a night may reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.*
Ruth E. Patterson, PhD, of the University of California-San Diego, and colleagues tracked 2,413 participants—all diagnosed with breast cancer between the ages 27 and 70—in the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living study to determine the potential effects of nightly fasting on breast cancer prognosis. None of the women had diabetes.
On average, 818 women reported fasting overnight for at least 13 hours. Women who fasted for fewer than 13 hours a night had a 36% higher risk for breast cancer recurrence, compared with those who fasted for 13 or more hours.
The researchers can’t say why overnight fasting may influence breast cancer risk, but they found that with every additional two hours of fasting, a woman’s average blood sugar level went down.
Editor’s Note: “Our study introduces a novel dietary intervention strategy and indicates that prolonging the length of the nightly fasting interval could be a simple and feasible strategy to reduce breast cancer recurrence,” say the authors.
*JAMA Oncology. 2016 Mar 31.
Vitamin D Improves Heart Function
According to a new five-year study presented at the American College of Cardiology 65th Annual Scientific Session & Expo in Chicago, a daily dose of vitamin D3 improves heart function in people with chronic heart failure.*
The study by the University of Leeds School of Medicine included over 160 patients who were already being treated for their heart failure using proven treatments including beta-blockers, ACE-inhibitors, and pacemakers. Participants took either vitamin D or a placebo for one year.
In the 80 patients who took vitamin D3, the heart’s pumping function improved from 26% to 34%. There was no change in cardiac function in the control group.
Editor’s Note: This means that for some heart disease patients, taking vitamin D3 regularly may lessen the need for them to be fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a device that detects dangerous irregular heart rhythms and can shock the heart to restore a normal rhythm. “ICDs are expensive and involve an operation,” said study author Dr. Klaus Witte. “If we can avoid an ICD implant in just a few patients, then that is a boost to patients… as a whole.”
*American College of Cardiology 65th Annual Scientific Session & Expo. 2016 Apr 4.
Metformin May Aid Heart Attack Recovery
Cardiovascular Diabetology published the results of research conducted by Jolanta Weaver and colleagues that provides evidence of metformin’s benefit in heart attack recovery among diabetics. Use of metformin has been associated with a reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disease in trials involving subjects with type II diabetes, however, its protective mechanism had until now remained undefined.*
In research that utilized umbilical cord-derived stem cell cultures, metformin was discovered to influence genes involved in angiogenesis: the formation of new blood vessels. (New blood vessel formation is delayed under the conditions of low oxygen and high glucose that occur in diabetic heart attack patients.) It was determined that metformin suppresses several angiogenic inhibitors while enhancing the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor A.
“Our research is exciting as it can instantly make a difference to the treatments we are exploring, offering a new approach to heart disease in diabetes and new therapies may now be developed,” Dr. Weaver stated.
Editor’s Note: “The outcome of cardiovascular disease interventions in patients with diabetes is much worse in comparison with nondiabetic individuals,” noted Dr. Weaver. “As a result there is a demand for improved treatment approaches to enhance the outcomes of those with diabetes in order to increase heart attack survival rates.”
*Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2016 Feb 9.
Broccoli May Provide Benefits against Liver Diseases
The March 1, 2016, issue of the Journal of Nutrition reported an association between a broccoli-supplemented diet and a lower risk of fatty liver and liver cancer in obese mice.*
“We decided that liver cancer needed to be studied particularly because of the obesity epidemic in the US,” said lead researcher Elizabeth Jeffery, of the University of Illinois. “It is already in the literature that obesity enhances the risk for liver cancer and this is particularly true for men.”
The researchers fed mice a Western diet high in lard and sucrose with or without freeze-dried broccoli, or a standard control diet. The animals subsequently received weekly injections of a carcinogen that has the potential to induce tumors in the liver and other organs.
“We found that the Westernized diet did increase fatty liver, but we saw that the broccoli protected against it. Broccoli stopped too much uptake of fat into the liver by decreasing the uptake and increasing the output of lipid from the liver,” said Jeffrey.
Editor’s Note: Previous research conducted by Dr. Jeffery found that chopping or steaming broccoli was the best way to enhance the availability of sulforaphane, broccoli’s anti-cancer compound.
*J Nutr. 2016 Mar;146(3):542-50.
Higher Vitamin C Intake Helps Slow Cataract Progression
Findings from a study published in the journal Ophthalmology suggest that consuming a high amount of vitamin C could slow the risk of cataract progression by a third compared to a low intake.*
Researchers at King’s College London examined data from over 1,000 pairs of twins enrolled in the Twins UK registry. Questionnaire responses provided information concerning the intake of vitamin C and other nutrients. Digital imaging evaluated lens opacity in all subjects at age 60 and in 324 sets of twins 10 years later.
At the beginning of the study, participants whose diets contained abundant amounts of vitamin C had a 20% lower reduction in cataract risk compared to those who consumed low amounts. After 10 years, subjects who consumed a high amount of the vitamin had a 33% lower risk of cataract progression.
Editor’s Note: Genetic factors were determined to account for 35% of the difference in progression and environmental factors, including diet, accounted for the remainder. The study is the first to suggest that genetic factors are less important in cataract progression than those attributed to environment.
*Ophthalmology. 2016 Mar 24.
Higher Lycopene Levels Linked to Lower Mortality Risk
The journal Nutrition Research recently published an article that revealed a significantly lower risk of dying over follow-up among metabolic syndrome patients who had high levels of lycopene.* Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives such food as tomatoes and watermelon their vivid red color.
A team from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha evaluated data from 2,499 participants who enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001-2006. Subjects were limited to those 20 years of age and older with metabolic syndrome. Blood samples collected upon enrollment were analyzed for serum lycopene concentrations.
Among subjects whose lycopene levels were among the top third of participants, the risk of dying over follow-up was 39% lower than those in the lowest group, and for those whose levels were among the middle third, the risk was 33% lower.
Editor’s Note: The authors remark that, “Although the biological mechanisms by which metabolic syndrome increases the risk of mortality are not entirely clear, increased oxidative stress and inflammation may play an important role in the higher rate of mortality of individuals with metabolic syndrome.”
*Nutr Res. 2016 Jan 9.
Isoflavone Extends Life of Fruit Fly
A study reported in the February 2016 issue of The FASEB Journal found an association between supplementation of the diet with
the isoflavone prunetin and longer life in males of the fly species Drosophila melanogaster.*
“To the best of our knowledge, the current study is the first to show that prunetin significantly improves both survival and long-term health in male D. melanogaster, the latter of which was indicated by improved climbing activity in aged flies,” Anika Wagner, PhD, of Christian-Albrechts-University-Kiel in Germany and colleagues announced.
Dr. Wagner’s team gave adult male flies diets with or without prunetin and monitored them every other day. They found that flies given prunetin had increases in expression of the longevity gene SIRT1, AMPK activation, fitness and average life span compared to the controls. Since female flies live longer than males, the authors suggest prunetin’s estrogenicity as a mechanism supporting the effects uncovered by the study.
Editor’s Note: Prunetin is a phytoestrogenic metabolite derived from soy or lima beans that had previously been found to affect cell signaling in experiments with cultured cells, yet little had been known of its effects in living organisms.
*FASEB J. 2016 Feb;39(2)948-958.
Taurine Improves Erectile Dysfunction in Experimental Research
A study reported in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found improvement in the erectile function of rats with type I diabetes that received the amino acid taurine.* Diabetic humans are almost three times likelier to experience erectile dysfunction than nondiabetics.
The study utilized 18 rats that developed erectile dysfunction after being rendered diabetic by injection with streptozotocin. Eight nondiabetic rats served as controls. Half of the diabetic animals received intraperitoneally administered taurine and the remainder of the group received saline for four weeks.
At the end of the study, all erectile function variables were lower in diabetic compared to nondiabetic rats, however diabetic animals that received taurine experienced partial but significant recovery of erectile function. Taurine-treated animals had significantly reduced penile fibrosis as well as upregulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression and improvement in other factors.
Editor’s Note: Additionally, diabetic rats treated with taurine had higher testosterone levels than those that received saline.
*J Sex Med. 2016 Mar 24.
Vitamin C Improves Survival in Deficient Mice
Supplementation with vitamin C corrects some of the deficits observed in mice bred to lack an enzyme that rendered them, like humans, unable to manufacture the vitamin.*
After weaning, the animals were supplemented with a low dose, high dose, or no vitamin C, and serum metabolites and other factors were measured at four months of age. Those that were not supplemented with the vitamin were euthanized within six weeks due to poor health and significant weight loss. While mice that received the low dose of vitamin C survived longer than unsupplemented mice, they also experienced poor health and weight loss over up to 16 months. However, animals that received the high dose experienced a median life span of 23 months and a maximum life span of 32 months, while the median achieved in non-modified untreated animals was 23.8 months and the maximum was 30 months.
Editor’s Note: Supplementation with vitamin C was additionally associated with improved levels of several lipids and cardiovascular risk factors.
Nutrients Affect Gene Behavior
An article published in Nature Microbiology reveals that genes not only influence metabolism, but that metabolic byproducts influence the behavior of genes as well.*
“The classical view is that genes control how nutrients are broken down into important molecules, but we’ve shown that the opposite is true, too: How the nutrients break down affects how our genes behave,” stated lead researcher Markus Ralser of the University of Cambridge.
Previous research findings suggested that biochemical reactions occurring within an organism can affect gene regulation. These reactions depend on available nutrients, including sugars, amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins derived from food. By manipulating the levels of metabolites in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast) cells, Dr. Ralser and colleagues found that nearly nine out of 10 genes and their products were affected by the changes. “Cellular metabolism plays a far more dynamic role in the cells than we previously thought,” Dr. Ralser stated.
Editor’s Note: “Nearly all of a cell’s genes are influenced by changes to the nutrients they have access to,” Dr. Ralser remarked. “In fact, in many cases the effects were so strong, that changing a cell’s metabolic profile could make some of its genes behave in a completely different manner.”
*Nature Microbiol. 2016 Feb 1.
Health Care Spending by Seniors Will Jump 21.6% by 2030
The senior population is growing across the globe, and people are living longer all around the world. The United Nations (UN) forecasts that the 60-and-over age group will grow from 12.3% of the global population in 2015 to 16.5% of the global population in 2030.*
In 2015, consumers aged 65 and older accounted for around $7 trillion, or approximately 17%, of total worldwide consumer spending. In 2030, seniors are projected to account for around $15 trillion, or approximately 23.5%, of the total.
It is estimated that seniors accounted for around 16.1%, or $1.3 trillion, of health care spending globally in 2015; a number that will jump to 21.6%, or $3.5 trillion, in 2030.
The UN forecasts that the 60 and older age group will swell by just over 500 million between 2015 and 2030, accounting for 44% of the total global population growth of 1,152 million that is expected over the period. At this time, only two areas in the world have a population aged 60 and over that accounts for 25% of their population—Southern and Western Europe and Japan. By 2030, Northern Europe, North America, Australia/New Zealand, and China will have joined them.
*Fung Business Retail & Technology. March 2016.