Life Extension Magazine®

In The News: December 2010

Berries prevent age-related cognitive decline; resveratrol improves endothelial function in overweight adults; vitamin B6 alleviates inflammation in arthritis sufferers; anti-inflammatory mechanism of omega-3 discovered; and more.

Berries May Activate “Housekeeping” Mechanism in Brain

Berries May Activate “Housekeeping” Mechanism in Brain

A recent presentation at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) brought to light studies that highlight berries’ ability to switch on a natural “housekeeper” mechanism in the brain.*

Shibu Poulose, PhD, who is with the US Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston, gave the presentation, stating that this new research was built on previous studies that suggested that a factor in aging is a constant decline in the body’s ability to protect itself against inflammation and oxidative damage.

“The good news is that natural compounds called polyphenolics found in fruits, vegetables, and nuts have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against age-associated decline,” Poulose said.

One of the experiments proving berries’ effectiveness involved using cultures of mouse brain cells. Poulose and other researchers found that extracts of berries inhibited the action of a protein that shuts down the autophagy process.

“Our research suggests that the polyphenolics in berries have a rescuing effect. They seem to restore the normal housekeeping function. These findings are the first to show these effects of berries,” Poulose said.

—Jon Finkel

Reference

* Presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Higher Selenium Levels Associated with Reduced Bladder Cancer Risk

Higher Selenium Levels Associated with Reduced Bladder Cancer Risk

The results of a meta-analysis reported in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, conclude that the mineral selenium may have a protective effect against bladder cancer, one of the most common types of cancer worldwide.*

Núria Malats, MD, PhD of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center and colleagues analyzed data from 7 epidemiologic studies that reported the association between bladder cancer incidence and selenium levels measured in blood, serum, nails, hair, or saliva. The researchers found a 39% lower risk of bladder cancer in those with high versus low selenium levels. The protective effect extended mainly to women, who are at lower risk of developing the disease than men.

“Although our results suggest a beneficial effect of high selenium intake for bladder cancer risk, more studies are needed to confirm these findings before an enforcement of high selenium intake is recommended,” Dr. Malats stated.

Editor’s note: In an accompanying editorial, Elizabeth A. Platz, ScD, MPH concurred that “These findings provide a valuable lead for what to do next to understand if there is a role for selenium supplementation in bladder cancer prevention.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev. 2010 Sep.

Resveratrol Improves Endothelial Function in Overweight Men and Women

Resveratrol Improves Endothelial Function in Overweight Men and Women

An article published recently in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease revealed the results of a clinical trial of overweight and obese individuals which found a benefit for resveratrol in improving flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), a biomarker of endothelial function and cardiovascular health.*

For their research, 19 overweight or obese men and postmenopausal women with borderline hypertension were given 30, 90, or 270 milligrams resveratrol or a placebo over 4 weekly intervals, and plasma resveratrol and flow-mediated dilatation of the brachial artery were measured one hour later.

Plasma resveratrol increa-sed with dosage, corresponding to improvements in flow-mediated dilatation compared to placebo.

“The present study is the first to demonstrate that synthetic trans-resveratrol can improve FMD acutely and in a dose-related manner in at-risk population groups,” the authors announce.

“However, even the lowest resveratrol dose (30 mg) used in this study cannot be obtained from normal dietary habits.”

Editor’s note: While it is true that a normal diet does not provide this level of resveratrol, over the counter resveratrol supplements make it easy to obtain the dosages administered in the study.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2010 Jul 29.

Sleep Loss Causes Dieters to Lose Muscle Instead of Fat

A recent article in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine reports on a study by researchers from the University of Chicago evaluating the effect adequate sleep has on managing body weight.*

The researchers studied 10 overweight males and females in a sleep research center over two separate two-week periods. During each two-week period the participants followed the same low calorie diet, but they had different sleep schedules each session. During the first two-week period, the participants slept 8.5 hours per night, while during the second session, they slept just 5.5 hours each night.

The researchers discovered that while on 8.5 hours sleep each night, over 50% of the participants’ weight loss consisted of fat, while on 5.5 hours of sleep each night, only around 25% of the participants weight loss consisted of fat. In short, participants lost 55% less fat than when they were sleeping 8.5 hours.

—Jon Finkel

Reference

* Ann Intern Med. 2010 Oct 5;153(7):435-41.

Higher Serum Selenium Levels Linked with Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

Higher Serum Selenium Levels Linked with Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

An article published online in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention reports an association between higher levels of the mineral selenium and a reduced risk of prostate cancer.*

European researchers age-matched 248 men diagnosed with prostate cancer with 492 control subjects who did not have the disease. Serum samples obtained upon enrollment were analyzed for selenium, selenoprotein P concentrations, and activity of glutathione peroxidase.

A reduction in prostate cancer risk was found in association with higher serum levels of selenium. When participants were divided into four groups according to selenium status, those whose selenium was in the third highest group had a 39% lower risk of prostate cancer than those whose selenium levels were lowest. This reduction in risk lessened among those whose selenium levels were in the top quarter. Serum glutathione peroxidase levels exhibited a similar protective pattern.

Editor’s note: The finding contradicts the conclusion of other research which failed to determine a protective benefit for selenium against the disease.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev. 2010 Sep 17.

Mechanism Found for Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Lowering Inflammation

Mechanism Found for Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Lowering Inflammation

An article published in Cell reports the discovery of a mechanism used by omega-3 fatty acids in reducing insulin resistance and chronic inflammation.*

Recent research revealed that members of a family of signaling molecules known as G protein-coupled receptors respond to free fatty acids. Using cell cultures, Jerrold Olefsky, MD and colleagues found that exposure to omega-3 fatty acids activates one of these receptors. The receptor, known as GPR120, is located on macrophages in fat cells, and, when activated, prevents the macrophages from causing inflammation.

The researchers compared the effects of diets supplemented with the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in mice bred to lack the GPR120 receptor and normal mice. Prior to receiving EPA and DHA, both groups of animals received high fat diets to induce insulin resistance. While the normal mice experienced enhanced insulin sensitivity and reduced inflammation after omega-3 supplementation, mice lacking the receptor failed to benefit.

Editor’s note: Dr. Olefsky noted that their work “suggests a possible way to treating the serious problems of inflammation in obesity and in conditions like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease through simple dietary supplementation.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Cell. 2010 Sep 3;142(5):687-98.

Vitamin B6 Supplementation Lowers Inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported a trial conducted by researchers in Taiwan which found an anti-inflammatory benefit for vitamin B6 supplementation in rheumatoid arthritis patients.*

Dr. Y-C Huang of Chung Shan Medical University in Taichung and colleagues randomized 35 adults with rheumatoid arthritis to receive 5 milligrams per day folic acid or 5 milligrams folic acid plus 100 milligrams vitamin B6 for 12 weeks. Blood samples obtained from the subjects at the beginning and end of the study were analyzed for plasma pyridoxal 5’-phosphate (the active form of vitamin B6), serum folate, and factors involved in inflammation, including C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α).

At the end of the twelve weeks, interleukin-6 and TNF- were decreased among those who received supplemental vitamin B6. Higher plasma interleukin-6 levels were related to reduced levels of plasma pyridoxal 5’-phosphate.

Editor’s note: The authors write that their results “provide valuable reference data for clinical practice with regard to the potential beneficial use of vitamin B6 to suppress inflammatory response in rheumatoid arthritis patients.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Sep;64(9):1007-13.

B Vitamin Supplements Slow Brain Atrophy in Cognitively Impaired Patients

B Vitamin Supplements Slow Brain Atrophy in Cognitively Impaired Patients

The results of a trial reported in the journal PLoS ONE revealed that men and women with mild cognitive impairment who were supplemented with vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid experienced a reduction in the rate of brain atrophy compared with those who received a placebo.*

Researchers at the University of Oxford randomized 168 subjects to receive 20 mg of vitamin B6, 500 mcg of vitamin B12, and 800 mcg of folic acid per day for 24 months.

The age-adjusted rate of brain atrophy per year was 29.6% less and homocysteine levels were 31.7% lower by the end of the trial in the active treatment group compared to the placebo group. Among those who received the vitamins and whose baseline homocysteine levels were among the top 25%, a 53% reduction in the rate of atrophy occurred compared to the placebo group.

Editor’s note: The authors remark that while elevated homocysteine could be a direct cause of the brain atrophy observed in the study, it may alternately be the result of reduced levels of folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, with increased homocysteine only serving as a marker of these insufficiencies.

—D. Dye

Reference

* PLoS One. 2010 Sep 8;5(9):e12244.

CLEAN, GREEN & LEAN
By Dr. Walter Crinnion

Drop the Weight in 30 Days

Drop the Weight in 30 Days

When choosing to save the planet or save your life, most people would choose the latter. However, the book Clean, Green & Lean (Wiley, 2010) by Dr. Walter Crinnion, offers you a way to do both. Crinnion is one of America’s foremost authorities on environmental medicine and the director of the Environmental Medicine Center of Excellence at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona. In his words, the strategy for this book is a simple one: “Stop new toxins from coming into the body and get accumulated toxins out of the body.”

He lays out a plan throughout the book to accomplish these goals in four simple ways:

  1. Clean up your diet.
  2. Clean up your home environment.
  3. Use toxin-fighting supplements.
  4. Improve elimination.

With these four steps elaborated throughout the pages of Clean, Green & Lean, readers will be treated to broad brush concepts like avoiding reactive foods like wheat, sugar, and dairy, which commonly cause problems, to more specific strategies to avoid chemicals, like which plastic wrap is the safest to cover your food with (it’s a trick question—the best option is to never use them, but if you have to, use wax paper).

The book is divided into three parts, beginning with “Part One: Understanding and Overcoming Toxins.” This part is dedicated to teaching you how to reduce your toxic burden, and it goes into depth to explain what is called the “toxin-fat” connection. Readers may find this section disturbing when they learn how easily things like increased exposure to pesticides can lead to poisoning, weight gain, and increased risk of heart disease, liver disease, and cancer.

Part Two of the book explains the Clean, Green diet, what you need to get rid of to follow it, and which supplements are most effective in combating disease and cleansing your body. Headlining the list of Crinnion’s toxin-fighting nutrients are supplements that most Life Extension Magazine® readers are familiar with: vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, magnesium, alpha-lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, and selenium.

In order to help readers capitalize on the information distributed in the first two-thirds of the book, Part Three lays out a blueprint for readers to follow to live a Clean, Green & Lean life. This includes a four-week plan to follow, as well as healthy recipes and a meal-by-meal fourteen-day menu plan.

Clean, Green & Lean is an eye-opening read that lifts the veil on the toxins that surround us every day. After completing this book, your perspective on everyday objects, from microwave-safe bowls, to cologne, will no doubt be changed…but so will your life, for the better.

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