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June 2008

Low Testosterone Associated with Endothelial Dysfunction in Men

Low Testosterone Associated with Endothelial Dysfunction in Men

Men with low levels of plasma testosterone are at increased risk of endothelial dysfunction,1 an underlying cause of cardiovascular disease,2 according to a compelling Japanese study.

The investigators studied endothelial function and serum hormone levels in 187 men (average age 47 years) with risk factors for coronary disease. Flow-mediated vasodilation of the brachial artery was measured using ultrasound to assess elasticity of the endothelium (blood vessel lining).1

Low levels of free and total testosterone correlated with worse endothelial function, regardless of high blood pressure, advanced age, high body mass index, smoking, or elevated blood lipids.1

This study highlights that men must maintain optimal testosterone levels in order to sustain healthy endothelial function and cardiovascular health. Low testosterone in men has also been linked with an increased risk of dying from all causes within two decades,3 and is related to declining metabolic function and increased inflammation.4

—Dale Kiefer


1.Akishita M, Hashimoto M, Ohike Y, et al. Low testosterone level is an independent determinant of endothelial dysfunction in men. Hypertens Res. 2007 Nov;30(11):1029-34.
2. Balakumar P, Kaur T, Singh M. Potential target sites to modulate vascular endothelial dysfunction: Current perspectives and future directions. Toxicology. 2007 Dec 23 [Epub ahead of print].
3. Available at: Accessed March 17, 2008.
4. Tang YJ, Lee WJ, Chen YT, Liu PH, Lee MC, Sheu WH. Serum testosterone level and related metabolic factors in men over 70 years old. J Endocrinol Invest. 2007 Jun;30(6):451-8.

Rhodiola Shows Promising Anti-Aging Activity

Rhodiola rosea is an arctic herb popular with traditional Chinese and Eastern European medical practitioners, who believe its roots alleviate depression, relieve stress, and eliminate fatigue. Classified by modern scientists as an “adaptogen,” it evidently helps the body resist a variety of chemical, biological, and physical stressors. Evidence also suggests that rhodiola exhibits cardioprotective and anticancer benefits.1

Now scientists at the University of California, Irvine, say rhodiola may also offer previously undiscovered anti-aging benefits.2 Working with the common fruit fly, investigators conducted a simple experiment. One group of flies received rhodiola in the diet, while a control group did not. Rhodiola “significantly increased the life span” of test flies, which “exhibited decelerated aging,” compared with control flies. Results did not reveal the specific mechanism at work, but researchers noted the effect did not rely on dietary manipulation, “strongly suggesting that rhodiola is not a mere dietary restriction mimetic,” a reference to the fact that calorie restriction is known to extend life span in a variety of organisms.

—Dale Kiefer


1. Kelly GS. Rhodiola rosea: a possible plant adaptogen. Altern Med Rev. 2001. Jun;6(3):293-302.
2. Jafari M, Felgner JS, Bussel II, et al. Rhodiola: A promising anti-aging Chinese Herb. Rejuvenation Res. 2007 Dec;10(4):587-602.

EPA from Fish Oil May Prevent Schizophrenia

Fish oil, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), could help prevent the development of schizophrenia in teenagers and young adults, according to a promising study from Australia.1 Omega-3 fatty acid deficits have previously been noted in a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.2

For three months researchers gave 1.5 g fish oil or placebo to young people at risk of developing schizophrenia. At one-year follow-up, only 5% of the fish oil group showed signs of psychosis, while 28% of the placebo group had developed psychosis.1 The scientists noted that early prevention may have been key to averting the disorder.

In an earlier study, the researchers found that adding EPA to standard antipsychotic drug therapy “may accelerate treatment response and improve the tolerability of antipsychotic medications” in schizophrenia patients.3 Other studies have similarly noted that EPA holds promise as an adjuvant treatment approach for the disorder.4,5

—Dale Kiefer


1. Available at: Accessed March 6, 2008.
2. Song C, Zhao S. Omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid. A new treatment for psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases: a review of clinical investigations. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2007 Oct;16(10):1627-38.
3. Berger GE, Proffitt TM, McConchie M, et al. Ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid in first-episode psychosis: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2007 Dec;68(12):1867-75.
4. Peet M, Brind J, Ramchard CN, Shah S, Vankar GK. Two double-blind placebo-controlled pilot studies of eicosapentaenoic acid in the treatment of schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 2001 Apr 30;49(3):243-51.
5. Emsley R, Myburgh C, Oosthuizen P, van Rensburg SJ. Randomized, placebo-controlled study of ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid as supplemental treatment in schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry. 2002 Sep;159(9):1596-8.

Pomegranate Inhibits Prostate Cancer: New Evidence

Exciting new research reveals yet another way in which pomegranate may help fight prostate cancer—through inhibiting angiogenesis, the process whereby tumors grow new blood vessels to support their growth.1 Previous studies have suggested that pomegranate juice and extracts slow the progression of prostate cancer and kill prostate cancer cells grown in the laboratory.2,3

When mice that had been injected with human prostate cancer cells received dietary pomegranate extract, tumor size decreased. The density of blood vessels supplying the tumors declined, and levels of two important markers of angiogenesis also diminished.1

“These results demonstrate that an ellagitannin-rich pomegranate extract can inhibit tumor-associated angiogenesis as one of several potential mechanisms for slowing the growth of prostate cancer,” concluded investigators.1

—Dale Kiefer


1. Sartippour MR, Seeram NP, Rao JY, et al. Ellagitannin-rich pomegranate extract inhibits angiogenesis in prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo. Int J Oncol. 2008 Feb;32(2):475-80.
2. Pantuck AJ, Leppert JT, Zomorodian N, et al. Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Jul 1;12(13):4018-26.
3. Malik A, Mukhtar H. Prostate cancer prevention through pomegranate fruit. Cell Cycle. 2006 Feb;5(4):371-3.

Alpha and Gamma Tocopherol Reduce Oxidative Stress, Inflammation in Metabolic Syndrome

Supplementing with alpha and gamma-tocopherol reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in men and women with metabolic syndrome.*

Eighty men and women who had at least three metabolic syndrome features (such as increased waist circumference, elevated triglycerides, hypertension, elevated fasting blood sugar, or low HDL [high-density lipoprotein]) supplemented with 800 milligrams alpha tocopherol, 800 milligrams gamma tocopherol, 800 mg alpha tocopherol plus 800 milligrams gamma tocopherol, or a placebo daily for six weeks.

Those who received both tocopherols experienced reduced levels of the inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein. The combination group as well as those who received only alpha tocopherol experienced a reduction in tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Oxidative stress biomarkers declined in all the supplemented individuals.

“The combination of alpha tocopherol and gamma tocopherol supplementation appears to be superior to either supplementation alone on biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation and needs to be tested in prospective clinical trials to elucidate its utility in cardiovascular disease prevention,” the authors concluded.

—Dayna Dye


* Devaraj S, Leonard S, Traber MG, Jialal I. Gamma-tocopherol supplementation alone and in combination with alpha-tocopherol alters biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation in subjects with metabolic syndrome. Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 Dec 23 [Epub ahead of print].

Curcumin May Prevent and Reverse Heart Enlargement

Curcumin may help prevent or even reverse cardiac enlargement, a prelude to heart failure, according to recent animal and laboratory studies.1,2 Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to satisfy the body’s demands.

In a Canadian study, curcumin helped overcome cardiac hypertrophy, inflammation, and heart muscle scarring in living mice and mouse cells by switching off genes that code for proteins involved in enlargement of the heart muscle.1

In a related report, Japanese investigators showed that curcumin prevented heart enlargement in rats with high blood pressure and in rats that had undergone experimentally induced heart attack.2

Curcumin is a highly bioactive polyphenol derived from the curry spice turmeric. Curcumin’s protective activity in rodent models of human heart disease suggests that it may find important applications in averting cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of adults in the industrialized world.

—Dale Kiefer


1. Li HL, Liu C, de Couto G, et al. Curcumin prevents and reverses murine cardiac hypertrophy. J Clin Invest. 2008 Mar 3;118(3):879-83.
2. Morimoto T, Sunagawa Y, Kawamura T, et al. The dietary compound curcumin inhibits p300 histone acetyltransferase activity and prevents heart failure in rats. J Clin Invest. 2008 Mar 3;118(3):868-78.

Soy Isoflavones Offer Multiple Benefits for Menopausal Women’s Bone Health

Soy isoflavones not only help inhibit bone resorption and increase bone formation, they also improve spinal bone mineral density, according to two meta-analyses conducted by Japanese scientists.1,2

The first meta-analysis involved 432 perimenopausal or postmenopausal women who consumed high-isoflavone soy protein or isoflavone tablets for 4-48 weeks. Scientists measured a urinary marker of bone resorption and a serum marker of bone formation before and after treatment periods. They concluded, “isoflavone intervention significantly inhibits bone resorption and stimulates bone formation.”1

The second meta-analysis included 608 perimenopausal or postmenopausal subjects who ingested soy products or isoflavones for 3-48 months. Spine bone mineral density increased by 20.6 mg/cm3 in those receiving isoflavones compared with those receiving placebo. Bone mineral content also increased, but to a lesser extent. “The results clearly suggested that isoflavones contributed significantly to the increase of spinal bone mineral density, especially in postmenopausal women,” the scientists concluded.

These findings pave the way for large randomized clinical trials exploring the role of isoflavones in building bones and preventing fractures.

—Dayna Dye


1. Ma DF, Qin LQ, Wang PY, Katoh R. Soy isoflavone intake inhibits bone resorption and stimulates bone formation in menopausal women: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;62:155-61.
2. Ma DF, Qin LQ, Wang PY, Katoh R. Soy isoflavone intake increases bone mineral density in the spine of menopausal women: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;27(1):57-64.