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Anti-Inflammatories May Prevent Brain Cancer

October 2004

By Dale Kiefer

The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen has been linked to lower incidences of a variety of pathological conditions, including colon, lung, breast, and prostate cancers, heart attack, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Reasoning that certain brain tumors and colon cancer cells derive from similar sources, Ohio State University researchers sought to determine whether NSAID use is also associated with a decreased incidence of brain cancer.1

The research team queried 236 patients with an aggressive, fatal brain tumor known as glioblastoma multiforme, and compared the patients’ NSAID use with that of 401 healthy subjects of similar ages, genders, and ethnicities. Subjects who took at least 600 NSAID pills in the previous 10 years were considered regular users.

Subjects with the deadly brain tumor were less likely to have used NSAIDs regularly than healthy subjects. The study suggests that anti-inflammatory use confers some protection against the development of this deadly form of brain cancer.

The findings also add to mounting evidence that chronic inflammation underlies the development of numerous diseases, and that the use of anti-inflammatories—including natural anti-inflammatories such as Nexrutine®, curcumin, quercetin, apigenin, and resveratrol, among others—may prevent or reverse a variety of diseases.2-7

—Dale Kiefer


1. Sivak-Sears NR, Schwartzbaum JA, Miike R, Moghadassi M, Wrensch M. Case-control study of use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs and glioblastoma multiforme. Am J Epidemiol. 2004 Jun 15;159(12):1131-9.

2. Olszanecki R, Gebska A, Kozlovski VI, Gryglewski RJ. Flavonoids and nitric oxide synthase. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2002 Dec;53(4 Pt 1):571-84.

3. O’Leary KA, Pascual-Tereasa Sd S, Needs PW, Bao YP, O’Brien NM, Williamson G. Effect of flavonoids and Vitamin E on cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) transcription. Mutat Res. 2004 Jul 13;551(1-2):245-54.

4. Wallace JM. Nutritional and botanical mod- ulation of the inflammatory cascade— eicosanoids, cyclooxygenases, and lipoxygenases—as an adjunct in cancer therapy. Integr Cancer Ther. 2002 Mar;1(1):7-37; discussion 37.

5. Chainani-Wu N. Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of turmeric (Curcuma longa). J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Feb;9(1):161-8.

6. Shigematsu S, Ishida S, Hara M, et al. Resveratrol, a red wine constituent polyphenol, prevents superoxide-dependent inflammatory responses induced byischemia/reperfusion, platelet-activating factor, or oxidants. Free Radic Biol Med. 2003 Apr 1;34(7):810-7.

7. Roemer K, Mahyar-Roemer M. The basis for the chemopreventive action of resveratrol. Drugs Today (Barc). 2002 Aug;38(8):571-80.

Dr. Roy Walford, Anti-Aging Research Pioneer
Dr. Roy Walford

The recent passing of Roy Walford, MD, will be felt in the life extension community for years to come.
Dr. Walford, professor emeritus of pathology at UCLA, was a pioneer in life extension research. Over the course of a remarkable career, he became a leading authority on the biology of aging and the use of caloric restriction to combat the effects of aging and disease. Dr. Walford authored several best-selling books, including Maximum Life Span, Beyond the 120 Year Diet: How to Double Your Vital Years, and The Anti-Aging Plan: Strategies and Recipes for Extending Your Healthy Years. He also published more than 300 scientific articles and was the recipient of numerous awards.

Dr. Walford’s research focused on the biology and mechanics of aging from the standpoints of immunology and molecular biology. He discovered that restricting caloric intake in laboratory mice by about 50% could more than double their normal life span. Later human studies showed that caloric restriction could lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.

Dr. Walford applied his theory to his own life; for the last 30 years of his life, he consumed only 1,600 calories a day, far below the recommended calorie intake for a man of his age.

In 1991, Dr. Walford applied the low-calorie diet in the experimental Biosphere 2, a three-acre self-contained greenhouse in the Arizona desert. He and seven other researchers sealed themselves for two years in the closed ecological system. When food supplies ran low, Dr. Walford encouraged the others to follow a calorie-restricted diet, which produced dramatic weight loss and improved health.

Dr. Walford died in April from respiratory failure and complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 79.

As best we can recall, Dr. Walford is the first member of Life Extension’s Scientific Advisory Board to pass away. We did lose a doctor on our Medical Advisory Board to a rock climbing accident about 10 years ago.

—Stephen Laifer

Acetaminophen Use Harms Kidneys

Long-term use of acetaminophen has been linked to kidney impairment, according to a study of analgesic use among middle-aged women.*

Over the course of 11 years, 10% of study participants experienced about a one-third drop in their kidney filtration rate. The nearly 1,700 women recruited for the study were habitual users of the common painkiller, which is marketed both generically and as Tylenol®.

Life Extension has warned its readers about this hazard for more than a decade. The researchers stressed that other common NSAID painkillers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, have not been associated with any adverse effects on kidney function. Only acetaminophen was linked to kidney damage in the current study.
The study results showed that women who took 1,500-9,000 acetaminophen tablets over their lifetimes had a 64% greater chance of developing kidney malfunctions. Women who took more than 9,000 pills doubled that risk.

The women, who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study, contributed blood samples in 1989 and again in 2000. Samples were analyzed for changes in markers of glomerular filtration rate, an indicator of kidney health and efficiency.

Researchers note that more and more people are taking over-the-counter pain relievers for chronic pain and to guard against cardiovascular disease and stroke. Use of NSAIDS has been linked to a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk. The study findings suggest that physicians and their patients should reassess the advisability of routinely using acetaminophen.

—Dale Kiefer


*  Curhan GC, Knight EL, Rosner B, Hankinson SE, Stampfer MJ. Lifetime nonnarcotic analgesic use and decline in renal function in women. Arch Int Med. 2004 Jul 26;164(14):1519-24.

Fatty Acids Reduce Atrial Fibrillation Risk

Regular consumption of fish containing omega-3 fatty acids—but not fried fish—reduces the risk of atrial fibrillation, according to the results of a Harvard study.*

Atrial fibrillation, the most common arrhythmia in clinical practice, affects more than 2 million Americans. Risk factors, including valvular or coronary heart disease and higher systolic blood pressure, all increase with age. Adding fish to the diet has long been associated with lower blood pressure, less systemic inflammation, and improved left ventricular function.

The Harvard researchers assessed the dietary intake in 1989-90 of 4,815 adults aged 65 and older. During 12 years of follow up, the incidence of atrial fibrillation was determined using hospital discharge records and annual electrocardiograms.

In all, 980 cases of atrial fibrillation were reported. Case analyses revealed that the incidence of atrial fibrillation was 28% lower in those who ate tuna or other broiled or baked fish one to four times weekly, and 31% lower in those who ate such fish or more times per week.

While fish high in omega-3 fatty acids may be cardioprotective, the process of frying fish can alter its nutrient content, increasing omega-6 fatty acids, trans fatty acids, and oxidation products, especially if oils are reused for frying.

The researchers concluded: “Among elderly adults, consumption of tuna or other broiled or baked fish, but not fried fish or fish sandwiches, is associated with lower incidence of [atrial fibrillation]. Fish intake may influence risk of this common cardiac arrhythmia.”

—Stephen Laifer


* Mozaffarian D, Psaty BM, Rimm EB, et al. Fish intake and risk of incident atrial fibrillation. Circulation. 2004 Jul 27;110(4):368-73.