Why Reading Newsweek® Magazine Can be Detrimental to Your Health

Newsweek magazine just published an article stating that reducing homocysteine levels “has no effect on your risk of heart disease or stroke.

They base this proclamation on a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that evaluated the impact of modest homocysteine reduction in those who had already suffered a heart attack.

One minor fact that Newsweek failed to grasp is that homocysteine is involved in both the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis.1-3 It’s a shame that these two events (initiation and progression) are not better differentiated in the scientific literature as you will read in the following paragraphs.

The subjects in the study Newsweek reported on already had a myocardial infarction (heart attack) and thus suffered severe endothelial dysfunction. Catastrophic failure of the endothelium might better describe the condition of the arteries of these study subjects.

Since this study was done in the U.K. where dietary choices and tobacco consumption are worse than the U.S., we suspect many of these post-heart attack victims’ arterial systems were already so calcified, brittle, and occluded that it would be absurd to expect a modest reduction in homocysteine to protect against future strokes and coronary events.

This new study confirms what Life Extension® long ago stated, i.e., unless all 17 vascular disease risk factors are corrected, there may be no benefit in reducing homocysteine alone or in combination with a statin drug in healthy individuals, and certainly not those with advanced arterial disease.

Comparing the effects of modest homocysteine reduction in people who have already suffered a heart attack is like saying a garden hose is useless in putting out fires because a study showed it is unable to extinguish a raging inferno.

This analogy has more meaning than one might think. Those with severe pre-existing artery disease have already suffered such severe endothelial dysfunction that their arteries have become a raging oxidative and inflammatory inferno.

Therapies (like homocysteine reduction) may have protected against atherosclerosis if initiated early on, but are not by themselves going to extinguish the flames raging in one’s inner arterial lining (the endothelium) after a heart attack.

Fortunately there are documented approaches to reversing occlusive artery disease.

Homocysteine reduction alone is not the solution for those with advanced atherosclerosis. Life Extension long ago published that those with severe coronary atherosclerosis require aggressive approaches to suppress the 17 independent risk factors known to cause arterial blockage.

Those who rely on Newsweek magazine as a source for health information have been poorly informed in this instance.

Life Extension reiterates the critical need for aging individuals to uncover hidden factors (including elevated homocysteine) that are documented to increase heart attack or stroke incidence. Find out about low-cost blood tests that can uncover risks you may have for vascular disease, or call 1-800-208-3444 (24 hours a day).


  1. Geisel J, Jödden V, Obeid R, et al. Stimulatory effect of homocysteine on interleukin-8 expression in human endothelial cells. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2003 Aug;41(8):1045-8.
  2. Poddar R, Sivasubramanian N, DiBello PM, et al. Homocysteine induces expression and secretion of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and interleukin-8 in human aortic endothelial cells: implications for vascular disease. Circulation. 2001 Jun 5;103(22):2717-23.
  3. Su SJ, Huang LW, Pai LS, et al. Homocysteine at pathophysiologic concentrations activates human monocyte and induces cytokine expression and inhibits macrophage migration inhibitory factor expression. Nutrition. 2005 Oct;21(10):994-1002.