Life Extension Magazine®

In The News: October 2010

US obesity rate growing at alarming pace; long-term antioxidant supplementation improves arterial health; reduced vitamin D levels linked to cognitive decline; high antioxidant diet improves insulin sensitivity; and much more.

US Obesity Growing at an Alarming Rate

US Obesity Growing at an Alarming Rate

As this issue of Life Extension Magazine® was being prepared to go to press, a new report was published stating that US obesity is growing “faster than anyone imagined.”*

One of the more staggering statistics revealed in the report is that the number of states where 30% of the population is obese tripled between 2007 and 2009, going from three states to nine. Dr. Thomas Frieden, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told reporters that “less than a decade ago, in 2000, not a single state had an obesity prevalence of 30% or higher.”

Even more disappointing is that health officials had recently set a goal to slash the obesity rate by 15% or more. Rather than achieving that goal, the opposite has happened, and 2.4 million adults have been added to the swelling ranks of the obese population.

Obesity, which is defined as having a body mass index over 30 (calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in squared meters), puts people at greater risk for severe health problems.

In addition, there is a tremendous economic cost, as medical expenditures associated with the condition are estimated to be around $147 billion annually.

Bill Dietz, director of the CDC’s division of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity, said in a news conference that “the availability and consumption of high calorie foods along with a more sedentary lifestyle has led to the epidemic.”

—Jon Finkel

Reference

* http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/articleALeq5jvrH3EZViU3bxF_9Cvfkw-KIqK0A. Accessed August 5, 2010.

Panel Advocates Action Plan to Avert Aging Tsunami

Panel Advocates Action Plan to Avert Aging Tsunami

A panel of luminaries in the field of gerontology convened to urge the translation of findings in the field of aging into therapeutic agents that can benefit the world’s growing population of older people. Their report was published in Science Translational Medicine.*

In order to prevent a global aging crisis caused by a greater proportion of older individuals and the resulting increases in medical costs and social challenges, the panel advocates the collaboration of a number of countries in an initiative to translate laboratory findings on aging into agents that will improve older men and women’s lives.

“In the case of late-life intervention in human age-related degeneration, what we can be certain of today is that a policy of aging as usual will lead to enormous humanitarian, social and financial costs,” the authors conclude. “To realize any chance of success, the drive to tackle biological aging head-on must begin now.”

Editor’s note: The Life Extension Foundation has been urging such an effort since the early 1980s.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Sci Transl Med. 2010 July14; 2(40):40cm21.

Reduced Vitamin D Levels Linked to Cognitive Decline

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found a greater risk of cognitive decline in older individuals with vitamin D insufficiency compared to those with sufficient levels.*

Researchers analyzed data from more than 850 men and women who participated in the InCHIANTI study from 1998 to 2006. The team found that subjects who were severely deficient in vitamin D upon enrollment were 60% more likely to experience significant cognitive decline as well as 31% likelier to develop reductions in mental flexibility compared to those with sufficient levels. “This is the first study to identify a clear link between low vitamin D levels and cognitive decline,” announced lead researcher Dr. David J. Llewellyn of the University of Exeter. “Previous research has been cross-sectional but we have now been able to demonstrate a connection between having low levels of vitamin D and going on to develop cognitive problems.”

Editor’s note: The authors observe that “supplements are inexpensive and safe and have already been shown to reduce the risk of falls, fractures and death.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(13):1135-41.

Low Vitamin D Levels Can Predict Parkinson’s Disease

Low Vitamin D Levels Can Predict Parkinson’s Disease

A recent issue of the Archives of Neurology reported the finding of a correlation between reduced blood levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.*

The study included 3,173 participants in the Mini-Finland Health Survey who were free of Parkinson’s disease between 1978 and 1980. Over the 29 year follow-up period, 50 subjects were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Those whose serum vitamin D levels were among the top 25% of the subjects had one-third the adjusted risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than that of subjects whose vitamin D levels were among the lowest fourth.

The investigation is the first longitudinal study to demonstrate an association between insufficient vitamin D levels and the subsequent development of Parkinson’s disease.

“In intervention trials focusing on effects of vitamin D supplements, the incidence of Parkinson disease merits follow up,” the authors conclude.

Editor’s note: Although the exact mechanisms by which vitamin D helps protect against Parkinson’s disease are not understood, the vitamin has shown neuroprotective effects via antioxidative mechanisms, immunomodulation, enhanced nerve conduction, and other means.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Arch Neurol. 2010;67(7):808-11.

Many Risks Associated with Acid-Suppressing Medications

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a common type of medication that suppresses acid in the stomach, have been linked to several risks in studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.* The studies, and accompanied editorials, are part of the journal’s new series, “Less is More,” which highlights areas where measures of health are worse when patients receive more health services.

In the studies, researchers found that PPIs were associated with increased risk of fractures in postmenopausal women and an increase in Clostridium difficile infection (a cause of severe diarrhea). They also found that high-dose PPIs do not appear to be associated with reduced rates of additional bleeding, surgical intervention or death in patients with bleeding ulcers when compared with regular PPI therapy.

“What is important is that 60-70% of persons taking proton pump inhibitors don’t need these medications,” Mitchell Katz, MD, Director of Health for the San Francisco Department of Public Health told Life Extension. “Were it an issue of cost alone, it would not be so serious a problem. But the articles published in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrate that in addition to an increased risk of pneumonia, a well known side effect of PPIs, these medications are also associated with other side effects including bone fractures and C. difficile diarrhea. While it is true that all medications have side effects, there is no level of side effects that is acceptable when you don’t actually need the medication.”

—Marc Ellman, MD

Reference

* Arch Intern Med. 2010 May 10;170[9]:747-48, 765-71, 751-58, 772-78, 784-90, 779-83, 749-50.

Long-Term Antioxidant Supplementation Improves Arterial Health

Long-Term Antioxidant Supplementation Improves Arterial Health

An article in Nutrition and Metabolism reports the outcome of a trial which found that supplementing with four antioxidants improved arterial elasticity and HDL cholesterol while reducing hemoglobin A1c in men and women at risk of cardiovascular disease.*

Reuven Zimlichman and colleagues enrolled 70 patients who had at least two of the following risk factors: high blood pressure, diabetes, low HDL cholesterol, or cigarette smoking. Participants were randomized to daily supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and coenzyme Q10, or a placebo for 6 months.

HDL-cholesterol increased and blood pressure and HbA1c were reduced compared to baseline levels among those who received antioxidants while remaining unchanged in those who received a placebo. Arterial elasticity also improved in the antioxidant-supplemented group.

“The findings of the present study justify investigating the overall clinical impact of antioxidant treatment in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors,” Dr. Zimlichman concluded.

Editor’s note: Life Extension members have been taking these nutrients for years, if not decades.

—D. Dye

Reference

* http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/7/1/55.
Accessed July 22, 2010.

High Antioxidant Diet Improves Insulin Sensitivity

High Antioxidant Diet Improves Insulin Sensitivity

The Endocrine Society’s 92nd Annual Meeting was the site of a presentation of the results of a study involving adults with metabolic syndrome which found an improvement in insulin resistance among participants who received a diet enriched with antioxidant nutrients.*

The study included 16 men and 13 women aged 18 to 66 years with insulin resistance and obesity. All participants received 1,500 calories per day for three months. Half of the participants’ diets contained fruits and vegetables that provide high amounts of antioxidant nutrients. The subjects were further divided into groups that received or did not receive 1,000 milligrams per day of the drug metformin, which improves insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes.

While all participants experienced similar decreases in body mass index, only those that received the antioxidant-enriched diet had significant reductions in insulin resistance, with the greatest benefits observed in those who also received metformin.

Editor’s note: The ability of antioxidants to help reduce oxidative stress may help protect against a number of conditions, including metabolic syndrome.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Endocrine Society’s 92nd Annual Meeting. June 19-22, 2010.

New Research Contributes to the Understanding of How I3C Blocks Cancer Cells

New Research Contributes to the Understanding of How I3C Blocks Cancer Cells

An article published online in the journal Cancer Prevention Research clarifies the role of indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a compound metabolized from broccoli and Brussels sprouts, in preventing several types of cancer.*

Xianghong Zou and colleagues at Ohio State University describe the results of experiments with three human breast cancer cell lines which determined that I3C destroys Cdc25A, a molecule essential for cell division and proliferation. In another experiment, Dr. Zou’s team tested the effect of oral I3C supplementation in mice implanted with breast cancer tumors and found a 65% average reduction in tumor size.

“I3C can have striking effects on cancer cells, and a better understanding of this mechanism may lead to the use of this dietary supplement as an effective and safe strategy for treating a variety of cancers and other human diseases associated with the overexpression of Cdc25A,” Dr. Zou concluded.

Editor’s note: Cdc25A is also increased in prostate, liver, esophagus, endometrial and colon cancer, in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and in Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

—D. Dye

Reference

* http://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2010/06/24/1940-6207.CAPR-09-0213.abstract. Accessed July 22, 2010.

Healthy Diet Lowers Cataract Risk in Women

Women who eat healthier have a lower chance of developing nuclear cataracts, according to new results from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study.* Nuclear cataracts are the most common type of cataract for which surgery is performed in the United States.

Julie Mares, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and colleagues followed nearly 2,000 women aged 55 to 86 and compared their answers on a food questionnaire to their development of nuclear cataracts. Higher food scores went to those participants who ate more grains, vegetables, fruit, milk, meat, beans, fish, and eggs. Lower scores were given to those who consumed more total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

The researchers found that being above the 20th percentile for diet scores that reflect adherence to the US dietary guidelines at the time of the study (1995), had a 37% lower risk for nuclear cataracts after adjusting for other nondietary risk factors.

“In conclusion, this study adds to the body of literature suggesting that healthy diets are associated with lower risk for cataract,” the authors concluded. “Diet was the strongest risk factor related to reduced risk of nuclear cataract in this sample of postmenopausal women. Smoking and obesity were also contributors. Lifestyle improvements that include healthy diets, smoking cessation, and avoiding obesity may substantively lower the need for an economic burden of cataract surgery in aging American women.”

—Marc Ellman, MD

Reference

* Arch Ophthalmol. 2010 Jun;128(6):738-49.

Meta-Analysis Confirms that Eating Nuts Lowers Cholesterol

A meta-analysis of 25 previously published studies confirmed the positive effects of eating nuts on blood lipids.* The studies encompassed more than 500 participants in seven countries. All the studies compared a control group to a group assigned to consume nuts and none of the participants were taking cholesterol-lowering medications.

Combining the findings, the researchers found that eating an average of 2.3 ounces of nuts daily (67 g, about 1/3 cup) produced the following results: total blood cholesterol was lower by 5.1%, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol was lower by 7.4%, the LDL/HDL (“bad to good”) cholesterol ratio was lower by 8.3%, and the total cholesterol/HDL ratio was lower by 5.6%. In those participants with higher than normal blood triglycerides (greater than 150 mg/dL), nut consumption reduced triglyceride levels by 10.2%.

“The effects of nut consumption were dose related, and different types of nuts had similar effects on blood lipid levels,” the authors wrote. “Increasing the consumption of nuts as part of an otherwise prudent diet can be expected to favorably affect blood lipid levels (at least in the short term) and have the potential to lower coronary heart disease risk.”

—Marc Ellman, MD

Reference

* Arch Intern Med. 2010 May 10;170(9):821-7.