In The NewsJanuary 2018
Vitamin D Linked With Lower Breast Cancer Risk
A recent study has found a lower risk of breast cancer over five years of follow-up in association with higher levels of serum vitamin D or vitamin D supplementation.*
The investigation included participants in the Sister Study, which enrolled women who had a sister diagnosed with breast cancer, which placed all these women at higher breast cancer risk.
The study evaluated 1,611 women who subsequently developed breast cancer and compared them with 1,775 randomly selected women free of breast cancer. Blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D were analyzed in both groups.
A serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of at least 38 ng/mL was associated with a 21% lower adjusted risk of developing breast cancer over follow-up in comparison with levels of 24.6 ng/mL or less.
In comparison with no regular supplementation, the use of a vitamin D supplement at least four times per week was associated with an 11% lower risk of the disease. Breast cancer risk was 17% lower among postmenopausal women who supplemented with modest doses of vitamin D.
Editor's Note: "Our results support the hypothesis that vitamin D supplementation could be effective for breast cancer prevention and may help to establish clinical benchmarks for beneficial 25(OH)D levels," the authors conclude.
*Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Jul 6;125(7)
AMPK Enhances Beneficial Effects of HDL
A recent study has found that AMPK activation enhances the ability of HDL cholesterol to inhibit development of atherosclerosis.*
Researchers were interested in evidence that the cellular enzyme AMPK could be a therapeutic candidate in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Scientists used mice that were bred with a predisposition to develop atherosclerosis. Drugs including metformin were employed to activate AMPK in the mice, which were fed a high-fat diet.
Results found that mice given the AMPK activators showed significantly enhanced HDL removal of cholesterol from arteries. It also increased the expression of enzymes such as LCAT that remove cholesterol from the bloodstream, and of proteins ABCA1 and ABCG1, which regulate cellular transport of cholesterol.
Furthermore, HDL from the treated mice exhibited superior oxidant-reduction capabilities and anti-inflammatory capacities, and reduced atherosclerotic plaque formation was observed.
Editor's Note: The study's authors comment that their observations "suggest that pharmacological AMPK activation enhances the anti-atherogenic properties of HDL in vivo. This likely represents a key mechanism by which AMPK activation attenuates atherosclerosis."
*J Lipid Res. 2017 Aug;58(8):1536-1547.
Olive Oil Linked With Better Memory
Findings from a recent study indicate a potential protective role for extra virgin olive oil consumption against the development of Alzheimer's disease.*
For their research, the team used mice that were genetically modified to develop the memory impairment, amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that characterize Alzheimer's disease. Beginning at six months of age, the animals were given either an extra virgin olive oil-enriched diet or regular chow.
At nine months and 12 months of age, mice that received the olive oil-enhanced diet performed better on assessments of working memory, spatial memory, and learning compared to mice that received regular chow.
Brain tissue showed significant differences in nerve cell appearance and function between the two groups. "We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy," the study authors reported.
Editor's Note: Autophagy is the breakdown and clearance by the cells of intracellular debris and toxins.
*Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2017 Jun 21;4(8):564-574
Just-Published Protocol in the Disease Prevention and Treatment Book
The scientists and writers at Life Extension® continuously update the online Disease Prevention and Treatment protocol chapters based on the latest research. A recent update is briefly summarized here with complete versions of this and other chapters and references available online at: http://www.lifeextension.com/Protocols
Cancer Treatment Advances
Malignant tumors can suppress the immune system and evade immune cell destruction. As we age, we undergo a process called immune senescence, which makes us more susceptible to infection and chronic disease.
Successful immunotherapeutic approaches overcome some of these barriers by boosting the immune system's natural defenses and providing it with new ways to attack cancer.
Integrative interventions can enhance immune system function and may complement prescription immunotherapies. For example, the over-the-counter drug cimetidine (Tagamet®) can modulate immune function and facilitate a more robust immune response against some cancers.
Opioid Overdose Antidote Price Skyrockets
The emergency medication device Evzio has become the latest example of out-of-control drug pricing.*
Made by the Richmond, Virginia-based company Kaleo, Evzio is the auto-injector version of naloxone and is used as a life-saving antidote to opioid overdoses. When it first appeared in 2014, a two-pack of Evzio cost $575. Today, the list price has jumped 680% to $4,500.
Kaleo also makes the emergency epinephrine device Auvi-Q, which uses the same auto-injector and also costs $4,500, although the company claims millions of people with insurance will be able to get it with no copay and the cash price for others would be $360.
These prices have caught the attention of a number of US senators, including Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who contacted Kaleo and asked for more information regarding their pricing strategy.
The senator wrote, in part: "I understand that Kaleo is trying to mitigate the impact on consumers by providing Evzio for free to cities, first responders, and drug treatment programs, and offering various programs to help ensure that no consumer pays the $4,500 price… While these subsidies and programs are noteworthy, I am concerned that they do not address the underlying problem of rising prescription drug costs."
Editor's Note: Health insurers are not happy with the high list price of the Kaleo auto-injector medications. It's been reported that major companies including Cigna and Humana have expressed opposition to the pricing strategy, and Aetna has put Auvi-Q on restricted coverage.
*Available at: http://tinyurl.com/yblzjxrf. Accessed October 24, 2017.
Experts Promote Insurance for Alternative Pain Treatment
Health insurance coverage of a broader array of types of pain management may be on the way if a coalition of insurers, clinicians, and others in the field have any influence.*
Pain experts are lauding the first-ever Integrative Pain Care Congress, which was initiated at the 28th annual meeting of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management (AIPM). The group supports extending insurance to cover integrated pain management approaches such as acupuncture and yoga, among others.
Experts see this as a win-win strategy, saying it would reduce the excessive prescription of opioids—widely seen as a major problem in the US—while also saving billions in healthcare expenses and bringing relief to the millions of Americans suffering with chronic pain.
Without insurance covering it, many pain sufferers can't afford treatments that could be effective for them.
"We have a dual health crisis in this country," says W. Clay Jackson, MD, the president of AIPM. "We have a crisis of overprescription of opioids but undertreatment of chronic pain."
Editor's Note: Dr. Jackson acknowledges that insurers will want evidence that alternative pain treatments are cost-effective. He says there is already "a great deal of evidence" and that it's growing, but points out the difference between "evidence-based" and "evidence-guided" care. "Very little of what we do in medicine is actually evidence-based," he observes. "A great deal of what we do is accepted clinical practice, what clinicians feel is working for patients."
*Available at: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/887500#vp_2. Accessed October 30, 2017.