Life Extension Magazine®

In The News: March 2010

Higher vitamin D levels associated with improved lymphoma survival; less advanced and lethal prostate cancers in coffee drinkers; and more.

Higher Vitamin D Levels Associated with Improved Lymphoma Survival

Higher Vitamin D Levels Associated with Improved Lymphoma Survival

A presentation at the 2009 meeting of the American Society of Hematology revealed the finding of researchers from the Mayo Clinic of an association between higher levels of vitamin D and greater survival in individuals being treated for lymphoma.*

Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were measured in 374 patients with newly diagnosed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Half of the patients were found to have deficient levels of less than 25 nanograms per milliliter. This group had a 1.5 times greater adjusted risk of disease progression and twice the rate of dying over the course of the study compared to those with optimal levels. 

“While these findings are very provocative, they are preliminary and need to be validated in other studies,” lead investigator Matthew Drake, MD, PhD noted. “However, they raise the issue of whether vitamin D supplementation might aid in treatment for this malignancy, and thus should stimulate much more research.”

—Jon Finkel

Reference

* From a presentation at the 2009 American Society of Hematology meeting.

Less Advanced and Lethal Prostate Cancers in Coffee Drinkers

A recent Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference was the site of a presentation of the finding that men with a high intake of coffee have a lower risk of advanced and lethal prostate cancer.* 

Kathryn M. Wilson, PhD of Harvard School of Public Health and her colleagues evaluated data from nearly 50,000 participants in the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study.  Coffee intake was assessed for 1986 and every four years thereafter until 2006. 

While coffee drinking appeared to have a small protective effect on the overall risk of prostate

cancer, when advanced and fatal cancers were analyzed, the risk of each was 59% lower in men who consumed the most coffee.

“Very few lifestyle factors have been consistently associated with prostate cancer risk, especially with risk of aggressive disease, so it would be very exciting if this association is confirmed in other studies,” Dr. Wilson remarked.

Editor’s note: A reduction in the risk of prostate cancer has also been associated with other foods, such as tomato products containing lycopene, green tea, and especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Study from the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, Dec. 6-9, 2009.

Curcumin and Bioperine Target Breast Cancer Stem Cells

Curcumin and Bioperine Target Breast Cancer Stem Cells

An article published online in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment reveals that curcumin and piperine from black pepper help inhibit the growth of stem cells that fuel breast cancer.*

Researchers at the University of Michigan compared the effects of varying concentrations of curcumin and piperine administered to cultured breast cells to a control substance.  They found a reduction in markers for stem cells in cultures treated with the lowest concentration of curcumin, and complete inhibition at twice that concentration. Piperine also demonstrated an inhibitory property, although the effects were not as pronounced as those elicited by curcumin. The addition of piperine to curcumin resulted in a reduction in stem cells that was greater than either agent alone, while having no effect on normal cell development. 

The report is the first to conclude that curcumin and bioperine could help prevent cancer by targeting stem cells. 

Editor’s note:  Bioperine is sometimes added to curcumin supplements to increase the absorption of curcumin.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Nov 7.

Milk Thistle Shows Protective Effect Against Chemo-induced Liver Inflammation

Milk Thistle Shows Protective Effect Against Chemo-induced Liver Inflammation

A study described in an article published online in the journal Cancer reveals that the herb milk thistle, which contains the liver protective compound silibinin, reduces inflammation of the liver in children receiving treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). 

In a double-blind trial, Kara Kelly, MD, of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and her colleagues randomized 50 children with inflammation of the liver due to chemotherapy for ALL to receive a placebo or an extract containing one part silibinin to two parts phosphatidylcholine for 28 days. One month after treatment, the liver enzyme AST was significantly lower in children who received milk thistle and a trend toward lower ALT enzyme levels than those measured at baseline was observed compared to the placebo group. 

“Our results are promising as there are no substitute medications for treating liver toxicity,” Dr. Kelly stated. 

Editor’s note: Milk thistle has been available as over-the-counter supplements (silymarin and silibinin) for many years, and is also used to help protect the liver in other conditions.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Cancer. 2009 Dec 14.

Curcumin Shows Chemopreventive Potential for Prostate Cancer

Curcumin Shows Chemopreventive Potential for Prostate Cancer

In a recent study done by the Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire du Cancer, Hôpital Kirchberg in Luxembourg, researchers tested the efficacy of curcumin as part of a chemoprevention regimen for prostate cancer.* Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid of the Indian spice turmeric. It is a natural compound that may interfere with prostate cancer proliferation and metastasis development.

The researchers found that it also regulates the inflammatory response through the inhibition of pro-inflammatory mediators and the NF-kappaB signaling pathway. These results are consistent with this compound’s ability to induce pro-apoptotic proteins and to downregulate the anti-apoptotic counterparts. Curcumin is also reported to be a good inducer of prostate cancer cell death by apoptosis. The study concluded that curcumin appears to be a non-toxic alternative for prostate cancer prevention, treatment or co-treatment.

—Jon Finkel

Reference

* Genes Nutr. 2009 Oct 6.

EPA and DHA Needed for Optimal Nervous System Function

EPA and DHA Needed for Optimal Nervous System Function

A report appearing in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience revealed that diets that fail to provide enough of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA may negatively affect the nervous system.

Researchers gave one of the following diets to pregnant mice and their offspring: omega-3 fatty acid deficient, low alpha-linolenic acid, high alpha-linolenic acid, or a diet enriched with EPA and DHA. Adult offspring of the mice in the four groups were tested for nervous system function by exposing them to a loud noise preceded by a softer warning tone. Animals normally flinch upon hearing a loud tone; however, flinching is reduced when the animals are first exposed to a warning tone, an adaptive process known as sensorimotor gating. While mice that were raised on EPA and DHA demonstrated normal sensorimotor gating, animals given the other diets were more startled by the loud noise. The finding suggests that a sensory overload state could result from omega-3 deficiency.

Editor’s note: The ability of DHA and EPA to help maintain nerve cell membranes may be responsible for the protective effects observed in the current study.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

*Behav Neurosci. 2009;123(6)

Green Tea Intake May Protect Against Coronary Atherosclerosis

The Department of Cardiology at the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University in China recently investigated the association between green tea consumption and arteriographically determined coronary atherosclerosis in a Chinese population.*

The study consisted of 520 patients (379 men and 141 women) who underwent coronary arteriography for the first time. Patients were divided into 2 groups (non-coronary artery disease [CAD] and CAD groups) according to the results of coronary arteriography. After adjusting the established and potential confounders, green tea consumption was associated with a trend toward a reduced risk of CAD in male patients compared with those who did not drink green tea. In female patients, no protective association was found between green tea consumption and CAD. The study suggests that green tea consumption can protect against the development of coronary atherosclerosis in Chinese male patients.

—Jon Finkel

Reference

* Circ J. 2009 Dec 17.

Long-term Exercise Positively Impacts Cellular Aging

Long-term Exercise Positively Impacts Cellular Aging

In the journal Circulation, Ulrich Laufs, MD and his colleagues report an association between long-term intense exercise and a reduction in the shortening of telomeres that occurs with aging.*

The researchers assessed telomere length in blood samples from professional runners whose age averaged 20, middle-aged athletes who had engaged in endurance exercise since youth, and young and old groups of untrained athletes who did not engage in regular exercise. Age-dependent telomere loss was found to be lower in the middle aged athletes who had engaged in endurance exercise for several decades compared to the older, untrained men. “The most significant finding of this study is that physical exercise of the professional athletes leads to activation of the important enzyme telomerase and stabilizes the telomere,” noted Dr. Laufs. “This is direct evidence of an anti-aging effect of physical exercise. Physical exercise could prevent the aging of the cardiovascular system, reflecting this molecular principle.”

Editor’s note: Several factors have been associated with reduced telomere shortening, including multivitamin supplementation and other lifestyle improvements.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Circulation. 2009 Dec 15;120(4).

Zinc Plays Role in the Prevention of Osteoporosis

Zinc Plays Role in the Prevention of Osteoporosis

The Department of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine recently studied zinc’s role as an essential nutritional component in the development of humans and animals.* Researchers noticed several important factors relating zinc content in bones to the strength of bones. In particular, increased bone zinc content has been shown to decrease bone aging, skeletal unloading, and postmenopausal conditions, suggesting its role in bone health. Zinc has also demonstrated a stimulatory effect on osteoblastic bone formation and mineralization.

Researchers also noted that the oral administration of beta-alanyl-L-histidinato zinc (AHZ) or zinc acexamate has a restorative effect on bone loss under various pathophysiologic conditions including aging, aluminum bone toxicity, calcium and vitamin D deficiency, adjuvant arthritis, estrogen deficiency, diabetes, and fracture healing. The study concluded that zinc compounds may be designed as a new supplementation factor in the prevention and therapy of osteoporosis.

—Jon Finkel

Reference

* Mol Cell Biochem. 2009 Dec 25.

Magnesium Deficiency May Be Linked to Restless Leg Syndrome

Magnesium Deficiency May Be Linked to Restless Leg Syndrome

In a study from the Romanian Journal of Neurology and Psychiatry, researchers conducted biochemical and neurological tests in 10 cases of restless leg syndrome. The investigators reported important disorders of sleep organization. They found agitated sleep with frequent periods of nocturnal awakenings, and a decrease of the duration and percentage of the deeper rapid eye movement (REM) sleep—also found in other forms of insomnia caused by magnesium deficiency. 1

According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota, “Magnesium plays a key role in the body’s chemistry that regulates sleep. This may be why persons with long-term lack of sleep, or abnormal brain waves during deep sleep, often have low magnesium in their blood….Magnesium treatment increased deep sleep and improved brain waves during sleep in 12 elderly subjects. Magnesium treatment also decreased time to fall asleep and improved sleep quality of 11 alcoholic patients who often have a low magnesium status.”2

—Jon Finkel

Reference

1. Rom J Neurol Psychiatry.1993 Jan-Mar; 31(1):55-61.
2. www.ars.usda.gov.

Coenzyme Q10 and Creatine Combination Produces Additive Neuroprotective Effects in Models of Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Diseases

Researchers from the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University have discovered that coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and creatine are promising agents for neuroprotection in neurodegenerative diseases via their effects on improving mitochondrial function and cellular bioenergetics and their properties as antioxidants.*

The researchers examined whether a combination of CoQ10 with creatine can exert additive neuroprotective effects in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease, a rat model of Huntington’s disease (HD), and a transgenic mouse model of HD. The combination of the two agents produced additive neuroprotective effects against dopamine depletion in the striatum and loss of tyrosine hydroxylase neurons in the substantia nigra following chronic administration of a neurotoxic agent. These findings suggest that combination therapy using CoQ10 and creatine may be useful in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and HD.

—Jon Finkel

Reference

* J Neurochem. 2009 Jun;109(5):1427-39.

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