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November 2007

Resveratrol Suppresses Prostate Cancer Development

Resveratrol, a polyphenol compound found in red wine, suppresses prostate cancer development in a rodent model of the disease, according to a recent report.*

Scientists at the University of Alabama studied mice specially bred to possess genes that lead to the development of human prostate cancer.

One group received resveratrol in the diet beginning at five weeks of age; the second received standard feed. Resveratrol-fed mice enjoyed a 7.7-fold reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer tumors. Among resveratrol-fed mice, there was a significant decrease in cell proliferation and the potent growth factor, IGF-1. Furthermore, they experienced an increase in a protein believed to act as a tumor suppressor, and decreases in enzymes known to promote tumor growth.

Together, the findings, “provide a biochemical basis for resveratrol suppressing prostate cancer development,” concluded the researchers.

—Dale Kiefer


* Harper CE, Patel BB, Wang J, Arabshahi A, Eltoum IA, Lamartiniere CA. Resveratrol suppresses prostate cancer progression in transgenic mice. Carcinogenesis. 2007 Aug 3; [Epub ahead of print].

Turmeric Compound Helps Immune System Clear Alzheimer’s Plaques

Curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, may help the immune system to fight harmful amyloid-beta plaques, which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study.*

Building on positive findings from earlier studies in animals, Los Angeles-based researchers extracted macrophages (immune cells that destroy amyloid-beta proteins) from the blood of Alzheimer’s disease patients and exposed them to curcumin in vitro. The team discovered that a compound called bisdemethoxycurcumin, the active ingredient in curcumin, stimulated increased uptake of amyloid-beta by macrophages in 50% of patients.

“This is one of the first studies which pays attention to what we believe may be the crucial problem in Alzheimer’s disease: a defective immune system,” the authors commented.

—Dayna Dye


* Zhang L, Fiala M, Cashman J, et al. Curcuminoids enhance amyloid-beta uptake by macrophages of Alzheimer’s disease patients. J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Sep;10(1):1-7.

Low Vitamin C Levels Linked with Being Overweight

Those who have low levels of vitamin C in the blood are more likely to be overweight or obese, particularly women. These are the findings from a study conducted in 118 adults by nutrition researchers from Arizona State University.*

The scientists recruited 35 men and 83 women aged 20 to 60 years, of whom 24% were overweight and 54% obese. They discovered that higher levels of plasma vitamin C were associated with reduced body mass index, lower body fat percentage, and smaller waist circumference.

They also found plasma vitamin C in women to be directly related to levels of the beneficial hormone adiponectin, although this association disappeared after controlling for body mass. Lowered levels of adiponectin are associated with both diabetes and heart disease and tend to be more common in obese than non-obese individuals.

Earlier research by this team revealed that individuals with low vitamin C levels had a significant reduction in fat oxidation during exercise. Vitamin C is needed for the body’s synthesis of the amino acid carnitine, a deficiency of which leads to an increased accumulation of fat in muscle.

The authors concluded, “Because one-third of Americans have marginal plasma vitamin C concentrations, this is an important observation worthy of further investigation.”

—Dayna Dye


* Johnston CS, Beezhold BL, Mostow B, Swan PD. Plasma vitamin C is inversely related to body mass index and waist circumference but not to plasma adiponectin in nonsmoking adults. J Nutr. 2007 Jul;137(7):1757-62.

Vitamin C May Protect Against Arthritic Changes in the Knees

A diet rich in antioxidants may help prevent bone changes associated with knee arthritis, a new study suggests.*

Australian researchers noted the higher a person’s dietary levels of vitamin C at the start of the study period, the lower the risk of certain bone changes 10 years later. The same was true when the researchers looked at overall consumption of fruit, a prime source of vitamin C. Certain carotenoids, such as the lutein and zeaxanthin found in green vegetables, were related to a lower risk of cartilage defects in the knee.

The findings, “highlight the potential of diet to modify the risk of osteoarthritis,” the researchers said.

—Cathy Burke


* Wang Y, Hodge AM, Wluka AE, et al. Effect of antioxidants on knee cartilage and bone in healthy, middle-aged subjects: a cross-sectional study. Arthritis Res Ther. 2007 Jul 6;9(4):R66 [Epub ahead of print].

FDA Denial of Anticancer Drug Spurs Lawsuit

A group of disappointed patients and disgruntled investors is suing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials over the agency’s decision to nix a proposed vaccine Provenge® for advanced prostate cancer.*

The July 30 federal lawsuit, filed by the non-profit Care to Live, claims Provenge® is safe and effective and that the FDA’s decision was the result of political infighting. It also accuses the agency of ignoring conflict-of-interest issues, naming Dr. Howard Scher, a leading investigator of a competitor anticancer drug and one of the advisors who reviewed the Provenge® data.

The FDA’s denial in May of this year followed a thumbs-up from its own advisory panel two months earlier. Provenge® developer Dendreon, Inc. is hoping to win approval after a larger trial.

—Cathy Burke


* Available at: Accessed August 13, 2007.

Coenzyme Q10 Improves Endothelial Function

Long known for its heart-health benefits, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) offers numerous benefits for patients with coronary artery disease, including enhanced endothelial function.*

In this study, 38 patients took either 300 mg/day of CoQ10 or a placebo for one month. For those taking the supplement, researchers noted increased production of extracellular superoxide dismutase (an antioxidant enzyme), and improved endothelium-dependent vasodilation (blood vessel widening). The CoQ10 group also experienced beneficial increases in peak oxygen consumption and oxygen pulse.

The researchers from the Polytechnic University of the Marche concluded some of the improvements may be related to CoQ10’s ability to counteract the oxidation of nitric oxide, while the enhancement of the oxygen consumption and pulse rates could be attributed to the bioenergetic effect of CoQ10.

—Cathy Burke


* Tiano L, Belardinelli R, Carnevali P, Principi F, Seddaiu G, Littarru GP. Effect of coenzyme Q10 administration on endothelial function and extracellular superoxide dismutase in patients with ischaemic heart disease: a double-blind, randomized controlled study. Eur Heart J. 2007 Jul 19; [Epub ahead of print].

Multiple Vitamin/Mineral Boosts Mental Health in Older Adults

A daily multivitamin and mineral supplement improves mood in older adults, a new study suggests.* English researchers, testing 225 elderly hospitalized patients, found those on a daily supplement regimen for six weeks had higher levels of folate and vitamin B12, compared with those on placebo.

Significant differences were also reported for symptoms of depression scores between the groups, with beneficial effects observed for patients on the supplement. Other studies have previously shown an association between deficiencies in folate and vitamin B12 and depression.

“Both folate and vitamin B12 are important for the nervous system at all ages, but in older people where deficiencies are known to be common even in relatively healthy persons, low folate and vitamin B12 status affects mood, cognitive and social functions,” the researchers noted.

—Cathy Burke


* Gariballa S, Forster S. Effects of dietary supplements on depressive symptoms in older patients: A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Clin Nutr. 2007 Jul 25; [Epub ahead of print].

Low Vitamin D Levels Linked with Increased Blood Pressure

Another new study points to a link between vitamin D levels and cardiovascular health, and may help explain why hypertension seems to afflict more black Americans than other ethnic groups.*

Using data from the Third US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers found that individuals with the lowest vitamin D levels had slightly higher blood pressure. Non-Hispanic white Americans had the highest vitamin D blood levels, followed by Mexican Americans, while non-Hispanic black Americans had the lowest levels.

“This finding may have public health significance, as vitamin D levels can easily, and cheaply, be increased by a modest increase in sun exposure or vitamin D supplementation,” researchers noted in the American Journal of Hypertension.

Many public health experts now advise that all adults should increase their vitamin D intake to at least 1,000 IU per day and should regularly monitor their blood levels.

—Cathy Burke


* Scragg R, Sowers M, Bell C. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, ethnicity, and blood pressure in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Am J Hypertens. 2007 Jul;20(7):713-9.

Testosterone Cream Increases Women’s Libido

A daily dose of the male sex hormone, testosterone, significantly improves libido in postmenopausal women who have undergone a hysterectomy, Australian researchers reported recently.* Thirty-six women participated in the double-blind, randomized, placebo-

controlled, cross-over study. The women had scored low on a standardized test of sexual function, despite being in a stable relationship. They were already taking supplemental estrogen. None suffered from depression.

Subjects applied testosterone cream or placebo to the skin each day for three months. Test and control subjects then blindly switched treatments for another three months.

The testosterone cream significantly improved sexual desire, frequency of sex, receptivity, and initiation, as measured by a standardized assessment of sexual function. “It was effective, easy to use, and had no side effects,” concluded researchers.

—Dale Kiefer


* El-Hage G, Eden JA, Manga RZ. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of the effect of testosterone cream on the sexual motivation of menopausal hysterectomized women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Climacteric. 2007 Aug;10(4):335-43.