Life Extension Magazine®

In The News: June 2011

Apple polyphenols boost longevity in experimental model; landmark calorie restriction study planned; coffee drinkers have fewer strokes; increased supplement use among specialists; and more.

In The News

Milestone Study To Look At Genetic Effects of Caloric Restriction

Scientists from the University of California at San Francisco, Stanford, and the Buck Institute for Age Research are teaming up to study whether calorically restricted humans manifest the same age-slowing signaling seen in calorically restricted animals.*

The scientists wonder if humans on caloric restriction show the same benefits as animals, given many differences in genetics and the important role of lifestyle in human health. Finding the answer to this question prompted Dr. A. Janet Tomiyama at UCSF to organize some of the world’s greatest scientists to join the exploration. The team includes: Nobel Prize-winning telomere researcher Elizabeth Blackburn (UCSF), Anne Brunet (Dept. of Genetics, Stanford), Elissa Epel (Psychiatry, UCSF), Pankaj Kapahi (Buck Institute for Age Research), Cynthia Kenyon, (Biophysics and Biochemistry, UCSF), Jue Lin (Biochemistry & Biophysics, UCSF), and Eric Verdin (Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology at UCSF).

Paul McGlothin and Meredith Averill, of The CR Way Longevity Center, are helping the scientists identify people on long-term caloric restriction and sharing their insights into human caloric restriction practice, dietary regimens that support the biochemistry of caloric restriction, and identification of the world’s healthiest caloric restrictors who will converge on San Francisco—a city appropriately famous for health consciousness—for testing.

—J. Finkel

Reference

* http://tinyurl.com/CRONA-2010.

Apple Polyphenols Extend Life Span in Fruit Fly Experiment

Apple Polyphenols Extend Life Span in Fruit Fly Experiment

A recent issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported that the administration of apple polyphenols to fruit flies resulted in longer average life span and the increased expression of genes involved in the production of antioxidant enzymes.*

Zhen-Yu Chen and colleagues evaluated apple polyphenols’ effects on fruit flies, a common test subject in longevity experiments. Treatment with the polyphenols extended the insects’ average life span by 10% and prolonged their ability to walk and climb. Apple polyphenols also reversed markers of aging and imminent death, while upregulating the genes for superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), SOD2, and catalase.

The study, which is the first to associate an extension of life span with consumption of apples, adds evidence to the benefits revealed in other investigations, including a study that found a decrease in heart disease risk in women who consumed the fruit.

Editor’s note: Flies in which the genes for superoxide dismutase and catalase were knocked out failed to experience prolonged survival, indicating that apple polyphenols’ life-extending mechanism is at least partly mediated by its action on these genes.

—D. Dye

Reference

* J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Mar 9;59(5):2097-106.

Study Finds Coffee Drinkers Have Fewer Strokes

An article published in the journal Stroke reveals the results of a study of Swedish women that found a lower risk of stroke in those who consumed coffee.*

Susanna Larsson, PhD, and her associates evaluated data from 34,670 women enrolled in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. The women were followed for ten years, during which 1,310 ischemic strokes, 154 intracerebral hemorrhages, 79 subarachnoid hemorrhages, and 137 unspecified strokes occurred.

The researchers found a 22-25% lower adjusted risk of total stroke, cerebral infarction, and subarachnoid hemorrhage among women who drank at least one cup of coffee per day compared with those who consumed less.

“To our knowledge, only one previous prospective study has assessed the association between coffee consumption and the incidence of stroke among healthy women,” the authors write. “Given that coffee is one of the most popular beverages consumed worldwide, even small health effects of substances in coffee may have large public health consequences.”

Editor’s note: The dietary questionnaires completed by the participants did not differentiate between regular or decaffeinated coffee, however, the authors note that decaffeinated coffee consumption is uncommon in Sweden.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Stroke. 2011 Mar 10.

Dietary Supplement Use Common Among Specialists

Dietary Supplement Use Common Among Specialists

Results of a survey reported in Nutrition Journal reveal that the use of nutritional supplements is common among specialist physicians, and that they frequently recommend them to their patients.*

The Healthcare Professionals Impact Study surveyed 300 cardiologists, 300 dermatologists, and 300 orthopedic surgeons concerning the type of supplements used and recommended. Fifty-seven percent of cardiologists, 75% of dermatologists, and 73% of orthopedists reported personal use, and supplements were recommended to patients by 72, 66, and 91% of these specialists, respectively. Half of the physicians on average reported using multivitamins, with dermatologists leading the group. Omega-3 and fish oil supplements and botanicals including green tea were also commonly used.

The study contributes to previous findings which determined that physicians and nurses engaged in regular use of supplements in a manner similar to that of the general public and that the majority recommended them to their patients.

Editor’s note: Reasons given for recommending supplements to patients were dependent upon the physician’s specialty, including the recommendation of cholesterol-reducing supplements by cardiologists and bone-building nutrients by orthopedists.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Nutr J. 2011 Mar 3;10:20.

Vitamin D Insufficiency Could Play a Role in the Development of Parkinson’s Disease

Vitamin D Insufficiency Could Play a Role in the Development of Parkinson’s Disease

In the Archives of Neurology, researchers report the finding of a correlation between insufficient levels of vitamin D and the development of early Parkinson’s disease (PD).*

The study included 157 placebo recipients who participated in the DATATOP trial of men and women with early Parkinson’s disease. Blood samples obtained upon enrollment and at the final visit after 13 months were analyzed for 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

While 69.4% had vitamin D insufficiency at the beginning of the study, 26.1% were classified as deficient with levels of less than 20 ng/mL. The prevalence of insufficiency at the final visit was 51.6%, and deficiency occurred in 7%.

“We confirm a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in patients with recent onset of PD, during the early clinical stages in which patients do not require symptomatic therapy,” the authors conclude.

Editor’s note: The authors remarked that, “Contrary to our expectation that vitamin D levels might decrease over time because of disease-related inactivity and reduced sun exposure, vitamin D levels increased over the study period. These findings are consistent with the possibility that long-term insufficiency is present before the clinical manifestations of Parkinson’s disease and may play a role in the pathogenesis of PD.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Arch Neurol. 2011 Mar;68(3):314-9.

Long-Term Vitamin E Supplementation Associated with Reduced Risk of ALS

Long-Term Vitamin E Supplementation Associated with Reduced Risk of ALS

The American Journal of Epidemiology published the results of an analysis of over a million men and women that concluded supplementing with vitamin E is associated with a reduction in the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive, fatal neurologic disease.*

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health pooled data from five large studies for their review. Over the studies’ follow-up periods, which ranged from 10 to 18 years, 805 cases of ALS were diagnosed.

A 23% reduction in the risk of the disease was found among those who used vitamin E supplements for two to four years and a 36% reduction occurred among those who used the supplements for five years or more, compared to those who did not supplement. For those whose vitamin E from diet was among the top 25% of participants, a 21% lower adjusted risk of ALS was noted.

Editor’s note: This is the largest study to date to have examined the association between dietary and supplemental vitamin E intake and ALS.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Mar 15;173(6):595-602.

Short Telomeres Linked with Increased Mortality Risk Over Six-Year Period

The Journal of Gerontology: Biological and Medical Sciences reports the finding of Annette L. Fitzpatrick of the University of Washington and her colleagues of an association between shorter telomere length and an increased risk of dying over 6.1 years of follow-up.*

The current study included 1,136 participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study of adults aged 65 and older. Blood samples obtained upon enrollment between 1992 and 1993 were analyzed for leukocyte telomere length. Cause was ascertained for 468 deaths that occurred over 6.1 years of follow-up.

Adjusted analysis of the data found that subjects whose telomeres were among the shortest 25% of participants had a 60% greater risk of dying over follow-up, compared with those whose telomeres were among the longest 25%. When deaths were analyzed by cause, infectious disease emerged as significantly associated with shorter telomeres, while cardiac arrhythmia was shown to have a weaker association.

Editor’s note: The authors explain that, “Data strongly suggest that erosion of telomeres is the result of an accruing burden of oxidative stress and inflammation, which is known to be enhanced by exposure to infectious and inflammatory diseases. The significant relationship between leukocyte telomere length and interleukin-6, a biomarker of inflammation, found here and in our earlier study, supports this finding.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Mar 15;173(6):595-602.

In The News

Neuropathy in Extremities Caused By Old Mitochondria?

Neuropathy in Extremities Caused By Old Mitochondria?

Johns Hopkins scientists recently posited in a new study that the burning, tingling pain of neuropathy may affect feet and hands prior to other parts of the body because the powerhouses of nerve cells, called mitochondria, that supply the extremities age and become dysfunctional.* They hope this finding could lead to new ways to fight neuropathy, a condition that often accompanies other diseases including HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and circulatory disorders.

Mitochondria for most cells in the body replace themselves every month or so, but mitochondria in nerve cells often live much longer to accommodate the sometimes long journey from where a cell starts growing to where it ends.

“Our mitochondria age as we age, and they have even longer to travel in tall people,” study leader Ahmet Hoke, MD, PhD, said. “In people who are older or taller, these mitochondria in the longest nerves are in even worse shape by the time they reach the feet.”

Hoke also noted that if this discovery is confirmed for other types of neuropathy, it could lead to mitochondria-specific ways to treat this condition. Ideally, doctors may be able to one day give a patient a drug that boosts the function of older mitochondria, thus boosting the performance of the nerve cells and reducing pain.

—J. Finkel

Reference

* Annals of Neurology. 2011;69(1):100.

More Vitamin D Could Help Prevent Lung Cancer Recurrence

More Vitamin D Could Help Prevent Lung Cancer Recurrence

Researchers report in Clinical Cancer Research that an enzyme elevated in lung cancer that reduces the active form of vitamin D is associated with more aggressive tumors and worse survival.*

Nithya Ramnath, MD, and colleagues evaluated tumor samples from 86 patients with lung adenocarcinoma to determine the level of CYP24A1, which encodes an enzyme that is overexpressed in many cancers. This enzyme breaks down calcitriol (1-alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3), which has an antiproliferative effect in lung adenocarcinoma. The team found that CYP24A1 expression was 8 to 50 times higher in cancerous compared to healthy lung tissue. Patients with higher levels of CYP24A1 had an increased likeliness of aggressive tumors and a 42% chance of survival after five years compared with an 81% chance for those with low CYP24A1.

Scientists are now attempting to identify compounds that block CYP24A1, which would increase vitamin D’s anticancer potential and could be combined with vitamin D treatment.

Editor’s note: Dr. Ramnath remarked that, “A natural compound like vitamin D is attractive because it has few side effects, but it’s even better if we can determine exactly who would benefit from receiving vitamin D.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Feb 15;17(4):817-26.

Green Tea May Be Alzheimer’s Disease Fighter

Recent research by scientists at Newcastle University suggests that regularly drinking green tea could protect the brain against developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.* The study was led by Dr. Ed Okello and was published in the academic journal Phytomedicine. In addition to its potential as an Alzheimer’s fighter, the study also suggests the tea could play a vital role in protecting the body against cancer.

While hydrogen peroxide and a protein known as beta-amyloid have been known to play a major role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, past studies have shown that compounds found in green or black tea called polyphenols have neuroprotective properties, binding with the toxic compounds and protecting the brain cells.

“What was really exciting about this study was that we found when green tea is digested by enzymes in the gut, the resulting chemicals are actually more effective against key triggers of Alzheimer’s development than the undigested form of the tea,” explains Dr. Okello, who is based out of the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Newcastle University.

“In addition to this, we also found the digested compounds had anti-cancer properties, significantly slowing down the growth of the tumor cells which we were using in our experiments.”

—J. Finkel

Reference

* http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2011/01/110105194844.htm.

Few Meet Definition of Optimal Heart Health

Few Meet Definition of Optimal Heart Health

The outcome of a study recently published in the journal Circulation has resulted in the dismal conclusion that only one in 1,933 Americans may be meeting the American Heart Association’s criteria for good heart health.*

Steven E. Reis, MD, and his associates analyzed data from 1,933 men and women who participated in the Heart SCORE study. Surveys, examinations, and test results provided information concerning the presence of the following factors: not smoking, meeting physical activity and healthy diet goals, having a body mass index lower than 25, untreated cholesterol level of less than 200, blood pressure of lower than 120/80 mmHg and fasting glucose below 100 mg/dL.

Only one participant met all seven criteria of ideal heart health and fewer than 10% of participants had five or more components. “Of all the people we assessed, only one out of 1,900 could claim ideal heart health,” stated Dr. Reis.

Editor’s note: “Our next step is to analyze additional data to confirm this and, based on the results, try to develop a multifaceted approach to improve health,” Dr. Reis added.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Circulation. 2011 Mar 1;123(8):850-7.

 

The Road to Perfect Health: Balance Your Gut, Heal Your Body – A modern guide to curing chronic disease

The Road to Perfect Health: Balance Your Gut, Heal Your Body – A modern guide to curing chronic disease
The Road to Perfect Health

Brenda Watson, C.N.C., is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Fiber35 Diet. She has written six books, although her newest publication, The Road to Perfect Health: Balance Your Gut, Heal Your Body, is more similar to a gut-brain connection bible than a book.

Watson, one of the leading digestive care experts in the United States, has compiled a book that addresses 50 common health conditions. In addition, she discusses how digestive imbalances can lead to a host of serious illnesses outside of your digestive system, and she also offers natural options that can help realign the body’s digestive and overall balance.

The subtitle of the book is “A modern guide to curing chronic disease,” and at first glance, it seems as though that’s a lot of ground to cover in one book. Once you open the first few pages however, you see that the book is organized in such an efficient way that tackling the many issues that can be caused by poor gut function is not going to be a problem.

In fact, in the preface, Watson answers the first question that many people may be thinking when they encounter this publication: What does gut health have to do with overall sickness?

“Gut health is the core of our health. It is where we extract the nutrients from our food that feeds the cells and tissues and organs of our body. Think about it. Every bite of food we eat, every sip of liquid we drink goes to the gut first.”

Using this explanation as a jumping off point, Watson leads readers into her book with the first chapter, titled: “Basics of Digestion.” This is an excellent primer that explains everything from peristalsis to beneficial bacteria and gut immunity. Following this foundation of knowledge, the chapters cover nearly every system of the body, including the brain and nervous system, the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, the endocrine system, the genitourinary system, the immune system and infections, the musculoskeletal system, the respiratory system, skin conditions, environmental conditions, and cancer.

Each chapter is then broken up into conditions that may be caused or exacerbated by poor digestive health. The conditions are explained simply, as are the signs and symptoms that go along with them. Special highlighted sections allow expert medical professionals in that particular field to discuss their experiences with a certain condition and in some cases go over a few case studies to give the reader a better idea of what they may be dealing with.

At the culmination of each section discussing a certain condition, Watson gives her bottom line assessment of the condition, as well as how to cope with it. She writes about what other illnesses you should rule out, what tests you should order to confirm this illness, and how diet and lifestyle can affect it. Following that is a table that lists the supplements to take to combat the condition, including the dosage, the benefit, and her additional comments.

For instance, if a reader has diarrhea, she recommends 10 grams of L-glutamine powder with gamma- oryzanol split into two doses on an empty stomach with water for two weeks. She writes that it helps repair and keep digestive lining healthy and that it is best taken in loose powder form for optimum contact with the esophageal lining.

This attention to detail is evident in section after section of the book, making it a must-buy for those who seek to improve their health, cure a chronic infection, or prevent one from ever manifesting.

—Brenda Watson, C.N.C. with Leonard Smith, M.D., Rick Sponaugle, M.D., and Jamey Jones, B. Sc.

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