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.
Testosterone therapy improves insulin sensitivity in diabetic men
"We hypothesized that testosterone may be an anti-inflammatory and insulin sensitizing agent since it has been known for some time that testosterone reduces adiposity and increases skeletal muscle," remarked lead researcher Paresh Dandona, MD, PhD, who is a Distinguished Professor at the State University of New York and chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism in the Department of Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo. "Our previous work has shown that obesity is associated with oxidative stress and inflammation, and inflammatory mediators are known to interfere with insulin signaling."
The trial included 94 type 2 diabetic men, among whom 44 had low testosterone levels and reduced insulin signaling genes indicative of decreased insulin sensitivity. Participants with low testosterone received a weekly testosterone injection or a placebo for 24 weeks. Body weight, body fat, markers of inflammation, insulin sensitivity and other factors were assessed before and after treatment.
At the end of the trial, men who received testosterone experienced a more than six pound average loss of body fat and an equal increase in muscle mass. They also had lower levels of the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein, interleukin-1b and tumor necrosis factor-a. "Most importantly, we saw a dramatic increase in insulin sensitivity, demonstrated by a 32 percent increase in the uptake of glucose by tissues in response to insulin," Dr Dandona reported.
"Testosterone treatment for men, where indicated, will improve sexual function and increase skeletal muscle strength and bone density," Dr Dandona noted. "This is the first definitive evidence that testosterone is an insulin sensitizer and hence a metabolic hormone."
Dietary restriction helps maintain circadian rhythms
November 25 2015. An article appearing on November 25, 2015 in Cell Metabolism reveals that dietary restriction enhances circadian clock gene expression and fat metabolism in Drosophila—a fruit fly that has been the subject of numerous aging experiments.
"More than 10-15% of the genome is under circadian control, especially genes which regulate processes involving cellular repair and metabolism," explained lead researcher Pankaj Kapahi, PhD, of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. "Every cell has a clock and the action of clocks in peripheral tissues, fat, intestines, kidneys -- plays an important role in modulating metabolism and thereby mediating lifespan extension via dietary restriction."
Dr Kapahi's team had previously observed that flies given a restricted diet exhibited greater triglyceride turnover. The current study, which involved restricting the protein content of the flies' diet, revealed enhanced expression of circadian clock genes in peripheral tissue, which suggested an association with medium chain triglyceride cycling.
Genetic modification to enhance circadian function resulted in longer life, even when the flies were allowed to consume as much food as they wanted. Those whose clocks were disrupted failed to benefit from dietary restriction.
"The role of medium chain triglycerides in aging and regulation of clock functions is not clear, however dietary medium chain triglycerides have been associated with weight loss and improved healthspan in both humans and mice," noted coauthor Subhash D. Katewa, PhD. "Our work demonstrates for the first time that medium chain triglyceride synthesis in animals is under nutritional and circadian control. If we want to modulate the effects of nutrient manipulation on fat metabolism and aging then targeting the activity of peripheral circadian clocks gives us a way to achieve that goal."
"Circadian rhythms, which impact many behaviors like sleep or cellular processes like metabolism, tend to dampen with age," added Dr Kapahi. "The metabolic rhythms of flies on dietary restriction maintain a remarkable robustness as they age, which we think helps them live longer. It is exciting to contemplate how this mechanism might be exploited for human health."
Aspirin anticancer mechanism uncovered
November 23 2015. Findings obtained from a randomized trial reported in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention reveal a previously unknown mechanism for aspirin in cancer prevention.
Forty men and women received 325 milligrams aspirin or a placebo for 60 days. Using a new technique known as metabolic profiling, levels of 363 metabolites involved in most human biochemical pathways were measured in all participants. Researchers Cornelia Ulrich, PhD and her associates found that aspirin decreased levels of both forms of the oncometabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate by 12% among the trial subjects and by 34% in colorectal cancer cell lines. (Increased levels of 2-hydroxyglutarate have been found in blood and brain cancers, and the compound is believed to promote tumor development.) The researchers also determined that salicylate, the primary aspirin metabolite, inhibits an enzyme involved in 2-hydroxyglutarate production.
"It is really exciting that aspirin, which can work in colorectal cancer prevention, is now linked to a new pathway that has shown to be relevant for cancer formation," commented Dr Ulrich, who is the Senior Director of Population Sciences at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City. "This study covered most of the known biochemical pathways in the body."
It has been hypothesized that aspirin's anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic effects are behind its apparent ability to protect against some cancers. "This new study suggests that aspirin is playing a key role in interrupting multiple pathways that are linked to cancer development," Dr Ulrich stated. "Here we show both in the clinic and laboratory that a reduction in 2-hydroxyglutarate may identify a new mechanism for aspirin in cancer prevention."
"In the long run we want to personalize prevention with aspirin because like everything it can have side effects," she noted. "We want to be able to tailor it to people who are most likely to have benefit and to have the lowest risk of adverse outcomes."
Vitamin D supplementation improves balance and lowers risk of falls in women
November 20 2015. A double-blind trial reported on November 2, 2015 in Menopause found that supplementation with vitamin D resulted in fewer falls and better body stability among postmenopausal women with a history of falling. The study "is the first randomized clinical trial that evaluated the effectiveness of vitamin D in preventing falls in younger postmenopausal women," announce authors Luciana Mendes Cangussu, MSc and colleagues at Sao Paulo State University.
The trial included 160 women between the ages of 50 to 65 years who had fallen over the previous year. Half of the women received 1,000 international units (IU) vitamin D per day and the remainder received a placebo for nine months. Postural balance, plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and other factors were evaluated at the beginning and end of the treatment period, and any falls were noted.
Insufficient vitamin D levels were found in both groups at the beginning of the study. At the end of the treatment period, vitamin D levels increased from an average of 15 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) to 27.5 ng/mL among supplemented women, while declining from 16.9 ng/mL to 13.8 ng/mL among those who received a placebo. Participants who received a placebo had nearly twice the adjusted risk of falls than those who received vitamin D and a 2.8 times greater risk of recurrent falls. Postural sway declined by an average of 35% in all balance conditions tested in participants who received vitamin D while remaining relatively the same in the placebo group.
"In Brazilian postmenopausal women fallers, isolated vitamin D supplementation for 9 months resulted in a lower incidence of falls and improvement in postural balance," the authors conclude. They note that a reduction in the risk of falling would help minimize healthcare costs for postmenopausal women.
Vitamin D deficiency associated with reduced HIV treatment benefit
November 18 2015. An article published on September 5, 2015 in Clinical Nutrition reveals that being deficient in vitamin D could negatively impact the effectiveness of drugs used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
For their study, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics Amara Ezeamama of the University of Georgia's College of Public Health and her colleagues utilized data from a randomized trial that included 398 HIV-positive adults treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) over an 18 month period.
"Because of the immune-destroying effects of HIV, infection usually results in relatively quick death without treatment," Dr Ezeamama observed. "The magic of antiretroviral therapy, the name for drugs to treat HIV, lies in its ability to restore immune function. With antiretroviral drugs, people with HIV are beginning to live longer lives. Our goal was to understand whether vitamin D deficiency limits the amount of immune recovery benefit for persons on HIV treatment."
Vitamin D levels were measured upon enrollment and CD4+T cell counts (an indicator of immune status) were evaluated at the beginning of the study and at 3, 6, 12 and 18 months. The researchers found that higher vitamin D levels were associated with a better ability of CD4+T cell levels to recover in response to HAART. "HIV destroys the capacity of the body to mount effective response to pathogens," Dr Ezeamama explained. "Given different vitamin D levels, HIV-positive adults recovered at different rates. We found a relationship between vitamin D and CD4+T cells."
"In addition to HAART, ensuring vitamin D sufficiency may also be helpful in restoring immune function," she concluded. "Vitamin D is relatively cheap. If we intervene with it, it could give individual HIV-infected persons a modest immune recovery bump that will likely translate to big public health impact."
More research supports cardiovascular safety of testosterone replacement
November 16 2015. A study reported at the 2015 American Heart Association Scientific Session in Orlando on November 9, 2015 adds more evidence to the cardiovascular safety of testosterone replacement.
The study included 1,472 men aged 52 to 63 years with low testosterone and no history of heart disease who were patients at Intermountain Healthcare hospitals. At one and three year follow-up visits, the men were categorized according to whether they had received 90 days or more of testosterone replacement.
Researchers J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, and his associates found that men who received testosterone gel or injections had no greater risk of heart attack, stroke or death over a three year period than those who did not receive testosterone replacement. "Our research examined the potential cardiovascular risks associated with generally healthy men who use testosterone supplements to normalize their levels and found no increase in those risk factors," commented Dr Muhlestein, who is the co-director of research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute. "In fact, testosterone therapy in this population was shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and death, when compared to those men who weren't taking testosterone supplementation."
"This particular study provides assurances to physicians and patients that using testosterone replacement therapy in a generally healthy population of men over the age of 50 to normalize levels doesn't increase a patient's risk of a heart attack or stroke, and actually shows a reduction in those risks," he concluded.
Improved short term mortality risk in calcium-supplemented ICU patients
November 13 2015. On October 13, 2015, the journal SpringerPlus reported the outcome of a study of critically ill adults which found that supplementation with calcium lowered the risk of mortality within 28 to 90 days after intensive care unit (ICU) admission.
Researchers at Jinhua Hospital of Zhejiang University in Zhejiang, China analyzed data from 32,551 ICU patients admitted to Boston's to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center from 2001 to 2008. Supplemental calcium used during the patients' stays included such forms as calcium carbonate, calcium chloride, calcium gluconate, fosamprenavir calcium, rosuvastatin calcium, and others.
Within 28 days following ICU admission there were 4,489 deaths. Patients who consumed supplemental calcium had an adjusted 49% lower risk of dying compared to those who did not supplement during the 28 days following ICU admission. A reduction in 90 day mortality was also observed in association with calcium supplementation.
The authors remark that ionized calcium plays a vital role in maintaining normal physiologic function, particularly signal transduction, and that severely low blood calcium levels have been associated with an increased risk of death. "Since hypocalcemia is independently associated with increased mortality, it is not surprising that calcium supplementation is associated with improved outcome," authors Zhongheng Zhang and colleagues write. They add that "It is mandatory to conduct a randomized controlled trial to test whether calcium intake is associated with improved outcome."
"In aggregate, our study for the first time suggests that calcium supplementation may be helpful in reducing mortality in critically ill patients," they conclude.
Escalating CoQ10 doses associated with declining oxidative stress
November 11 2015. Findings from a trial reported online on November 3, 2015 in BMC Nephrology reveal an association between periodically elevated doses of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and decreasing levels of plasma isofuran, a marker of arachidonic acid peroxidation, in patients undergoing dialysis.
The trial included 20 end stage renal disease patients, whose plasma F2-isoprostane levels indicated increased oxidative stress. Subjects were given 300 mg CoQ10 daily for 14 days, followed by 14 day periods during which 600 mg, 1200 mg and 1800 mg daily doses were administered. Blood samples collected at the beginning of the study and after each 14 day period were analyzed for CoQ10, F2-isoprostane, isofuran and other factors. CoQ10 levels were also measured in the plasma of ten healthy control subjects.
Plasma CoQ10 levels increased linearly in association with supplemental doses. While F2-isoprostane levels remained unchanged in comparison with levels assessed prior to treatment, isofuran concentrations were reduced following the 1200 mg and 1800 mg dosing periods, and were 45% lower at the end of the study in comparison with the beginning.
"Mitochondrial dysfunction observed in Parkinsonism or end stage renal disease, may lead to high cellular oxygen tension since dysfunctional mitochondria consume little oxygen," the authors explain. "In this environment reactive oxygen species formation preferentially increases the generation of isofurans but not F2-isoprostanes . . . The suppression of isofuran generation observed with CoQ10 dose escalation is consistent with the idea that CoQ10 improves mitochondrial function in maintenance hemodialysis patients and reduces the generation of reactive oxygen species."
"This is the first in vivo study in any patient population to demonstrate that plasma concentrations of isofurans are modifiable by any therapeutic antioxidant strategy and suggests that CoQ10 may improve mitochondrial function and decrease oxidative stress in patients receiving hemodialysis," they conclude.
Cranberries: new antibiotic?
November 9 2015. While the world scrambles to find newer and more powerful antibiotics to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, researchers reporting at the International Conference on Polyphenols and Health on October 30,2015 provided evidence that cranberries could be used to combat recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and more.
"We have long believed in the urinary tract health benefits that cranberries provide, but this new research reveals just how wide-ranging those benefits can be," announced Kalpana Gupta, MD, MPH, who is chief of Infectious Diseases at Boston Healthcare System and professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.
Dr Gupta noted that, due to increasing antibiotic resistance, oral treatments for UTIs have become limited. Treatment with cranberries can help reduce the incidence of UTIs, thereby reducing antibiotic use and, accordingly, antibiotic resistance. Cranberries also protect against oxidative stress and have been linked with further benefits. A presentation by Peter Howe, PhD, who is a professor at the University of Newcastle in Australia, revealed how cranberry polyphenols have been associated with improved blood flow that could aid the cardiovascular system and the brain. "Based on emerging science, cranberries can be a vital nutritional asset to address global health issues, particularly as more people look to holistic approaches for healing," Dr Howe stated. "I'm pleased to be part of this international team of experts to present the latest scientific findings and to assess opportunities for continued discovery."
Mayo study finds tumor marker test underused
November 6 2015. Less than one in five patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are tested for levels of the tumor marker carbohydrate antigen (CA) 19-9, according to research presented at the Western Surgical Association's annual meeting. The test can provide information that aids in the decision concerning whether to initiate chemotherapy prior to surgery for the disease.
For their study, Mayo Clinic gastrointestinal surgical oncologist Mark Truty, MD, and colleagues utilized data from the National Cancer Data Base for 997,000 subjects. They found that the CA 19-9 test, which is routinely ordered upon pancreatic cancer diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic, had only been ordered for 19% of subjects diagnosed with the disease in the current study.
Pancreatic cancer patients with elevated CA 19-9 levels had worse outcomes in comparison with those without elevated levels whose cancer was of the same stage. The researchers found that the association of elevated CA 19-9 levels with poor survival was strongest among patients with early stage diagnosis. However, the administration of chemotherapy prior to surgery negated the impact of CA 19-9 elevations on outcome. "When we looked at how these patients did after surgical removal of their cancers, the only treatment sequence that completely eliminated the increased risk posed by CA 19-9 elevation was chemotherapy followed by surgical removal of the tumor," stated Dr Truty. "This is another argument for giving chemotherapy before surgery in all pancreatic cancer patients and ending the old practice of surgery followed by chemo. The study answers an important clinical question and applies to every pancreatic cancer patient being considered for surgery."
"Every patient should have a CA 19-9 test at diagnosis," he concluded. "This is a simple, cheap and widely available test that allows personalization of pancreatic cancer treatment."
The researchers plan to investigate the long-term health effects of soy protein and isoflavones supplements, including whether they benefit more than the bones.
Soy foods may offer protection against osteoporosis
November 4 2015. In a study presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference on November 1, 2015, women who consumed a high isoflavone soy protein supplement experienced a reduction in a marker of bone loss, indicating a decreased risk of osteoporosis.
The study included 200 women in early menopause who were divided to receive a soy protein powder with or without 66 milligrams (mg) isoflavones for six months. (Isoflavones are plant compounds, many of which have estrogenic and antioxidant benefits.) Blood proteins βCTX and P1NP, which are markers of bone activity, were measured before and after treatment.
Women who received soy protein with isoflavones had lower levels of βCTX in comparison with those who received unenhanced soy protein, which indicates a reduction in the rate of bone loss. They also exhibited a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to the other group.
The bone benefit observed in this study in association with isoflavones could be due to the compounds' estrogen-mimicking effect. "We found that soy protein and isoflavones are a safe and effective option for improving bone health in women during early menopause," reported lead author Thozhukat Sathyapalan. "The actions of soy appear to mimic that of conventional osteoporosis drugs."
"The 66 mg of isoflavone that we use in this study is equivalent to eating an oriental diet, which is rich in soy foods," Dr Sathyapalan observed. "In contrast, we only get around 2-16 mg of isoflavone with the average western diet."
"Supplementing our food with isoflavones could lead to a significant decrease in the number of women being diagnosed with osteoporosis," Dr Sathyapalan concluded.
The researchers plan to investigate the long-term health effects of soy protein and isoflavones supplements, including whether they benefit more than the bones.
Vitamin D supplementation associated with improved exercise performance
November 2 2015. The Society for Endocrinology's annual conference held in Edinburgh was the site of a presentation on November 1, 2015 of the outcome of a study that found lower blood pressure and improved exercise performance in healthy adults given a daily vitamin D supplement.
Thirteen healthy adults were given 50 micrograms (2,000 international units) vitamin D or a placebo for two weeks. Fitness tests administered at the beginning and end of the study found that those who received vitamin D were able to cycle 6.5 kilometers in 20 minutes after two weeks of treatment in comparison with 5 kilometers at the beginning of the study, while exhibiting fewer signs of physical exertion. The vitamin D group also had lower blood pressure and decreased urinary levels of cortisol, a hormone that is elevated during stress, compared to the placebo group. Research suggests that vitamin D lowers cortisol by blocking an enzyme needed for the hormone's production.
"Vitamin D deficiency is a silent syndrome linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and a higher risk for certain cancers", observed lead researcher Dr Emad Al-Dujaili of Queen Margaret University. "Our study adds to the body of evidence showing the importance of tackling this widespread problem."
"Our pilot study suggests that taking vitamin D supplements can improve fitness levels and lower cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure," stated study coauthor Raquel Revuelta Iniesta, who is a lecturer in nutrition at Queen Margaret University. "Our next step is to perform a larger clinical trial for a longer period of time in both healthy individuals and large groups of athletes such as cyclists or long-distance runners."