Life Extension Magazine®

In The News: July 2011

CoQ10 supplementation improves endothelial function; fish oil enhances effects of tamoxifen; high C-reactive protein levels associated with memory decline; and more.

In The News

Antioxidants May Protect the Body from CT Radiation

At the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 36th Annual Meeting, Kieran J. Murphy, MD, reports that a combination of antioxidants consumed prior to medical imaging studies involving ionizing radiation could help protect against their damaging effects.*

Dr. Murphy and his colleagues tested the effects of antioxidants on blood samples drawn from two volunteers. Vitamin C and glutathione were administered to the samples prior to irradiation and DNA damage was assessed. Additional samples were tested with higher concentrations of vitamin C prior to receiving diagnostic doses of ionizing radiation. The subjects then were given vitamin C, glutathione, and uric acid orally for five days during which blood was drawn daily and subjected to CT radiation, and DNA injury to white blood cells was evaluated.

The researchers observed a reduction in DNA injury in blood treated with vitamin C and glutathione compared with control samples. Oral administration of the antioxidants also resulted in a reduction in DNA injury.

Editor’s note: These findings indicate that when X-rays and CT scans are medically necessary, consumption of high doses of vitamin C and glutathione precursors like cysteine and SAMe hours and days before may confer some protection against the DNA-damaging, carcinogenic effects of ionizing radiation.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Society of Interventional Radiology’s 36th Annual Scientific Meeting, April, 2011, Chicago.

Low Coenzyme Q10 Associated with Increased Breast Cancer Risk

Low Coenzyme Q10 Associated with Increased Breast Cancer Risk

An article published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention reveals an association between decreased levels of CoQ10 and a greater risk of breast cancer in women.*

The investigation involved participants in The Shanghai Women’s Health Study. Robert V. Cooney at the University of Hawaii and his colleagues matched 340 women with breast cancer to 653 subjects who were free of the disease. Plasma samples were analyzed for coenzyme Q10 and tocopherols.

Women with higher CoQ10 also had higher plasma alpha- and gamma-tocopherol levels. After excluding patients diagnosed within a year of blood draw, a significant relationship was observed between declining plasma CoQ10 levels and increased breast cancer risk. There was a 90% greater risk of breast cancer among those whose levels were among the lowest one-fifth of participants compared to those whose levels were among the third-fifth and higher.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011 Apr 5.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Protect Against Obesity-related Disease

Low Coenzyme Q10 Associated with Increased Breast Cancer Risk

An article published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals a protective effect for high omega-3 fatty acid intake against the development of diseases related to obesity, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.*

Zeina Makhoul, PhD, and colleagues evaluated data from 330 Yup’ik Eskimos. Omega-3 fatty acid intake among the Yup’iks averages twenty times higher than most Americans.

Triglycerides, glucose, insulin, leptin, and C-reactive protein were measured in the participants’ blood samples, and dietary questionnaire responses were analyzed for the intake of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Among subjects with lower blood levels of EPA and DHA, having a high body mass index was correlated with high triglycerides and C-reactive protein, both of which are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and possibly diabetes. “The new finding was that obesity did not increase these risk factors among study participants with high blood levels of omega-3 fats,” senior author Alan Kristal, DrPH, revealed.

Editor’s note: The researchers recommend that a clinical trial be conducted to help confirm whether increased omega-3 fatty acids reduce obesity’s effect on triglycerides and inflammation.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Mar 23.

Greater Levels of Some Antioxidants Associated with Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

Greater Levels of Some Antioxidants Associated with Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

A report published online in the Journal of Nutrition reveals the results of a study that found a lower risk of metabolic syndrome among those with higher serum levels of vitamin C and carotenoids.*

May A. Beydoun of the NIA and her associates evaluated data from up to 11,845 men and women enrolled in NHANES 2001-2006. Anthropometric measurements and blood pressure were assessed upon enrollment, and blood samples were analyzed for the antioxidant nutrients retinol, retinyl esters, carotenoids, vitamin C and vitamin E, as well as glucose, lipids, C-reactive protein, and other factors.

Participants with metabolic syndrome had significantly lower vitamin D and higher total homocysteine levels. Having higher serum carotenoids or vitamin C was associated with a lower adjusted risk of metabolic syndrome in men and women, while retinol and retinyl esters were associated with a protective effect only in men.

Editor’s note: Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that increase the risk of developing diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease.

—D. Dye

Reference

* J Nutr. 2011 Mar 30.

Reduced Vitamin D Levels Linked to Arterial Stiffness

A presentation by Ibhar Al Mheid, MD, at the annual American College of Cardiology meeting revealed the finding of a protective effect for vitamin D against arterial stiffness and impaired blood vessel relaxation.*

Dr. Al Mheid, along with Arshed Quyyumi, MD, evaluated data from participants in the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute’s Center for Health Discovery and Well Being. Endothelial function was evaluated via brachial artery flow-mediated dilation, and microvascular function and arterial stiffness were assessed. Blood samples were analyzed for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, a form of the vitamin that reflects dietary intake and skin production.

Reduced levels of vitamin D correlated with increased arterial stiffness and vascular function impairment. Among those whose vitamin D levels were normalized over a six month period, vascular health improved and blood pressure measurements declined. “We found that people with vitamin D deficiency had vascular dysfunction comparable to those with diabetes or hypertension,” Dr. Al Mheid observed.

Editor’s note: “We are hoping to conduct a study where we have participants take a defined regimen of vitamin D,” Dr. Al Mheid stated.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Annual American College of Cardiology meeting, April 2, 2011.

In The News

Higher Vitamin D Levels Associated with Reduced Risk of Macular Degeneration Among Women

Higher Vitamin D Levels Associated with Reduced Risk of Macular Degeneration Among Women

The results of a study reported in a recent issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology suggest that having a high level of vitamin D could be protective against the development of early age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss in adults.*

The study involved 1,313 women participants in the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study (CAREDS). Serum samples were analyzed for 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Dietary questionnaires administered upon enrollment were analyzed for vitamin D intake from food and supplements.

Although no significant association was found between vitamin D and early macular degeneration risk in the entire group, when subjects younger than 75 years of age were analyzed, a protective association emerged. Intake of vitamin D from food and supplements was also found to be protective against early disease in participants under the age of 75.

Editor’s note: “The take-home message from this study is that having very low vitamin D status (25-hydroxyvitamin D blood concentrations lower than 38 nanomoles per liter [15 ng/mL]) may be associated with increasing your odds of developing age-related macular degeneration,” Dr. Millen concluded

—D. Dye

Reference

* Arch Opthalmol. 2011 Apr; 129(4):481-9.

Marker of Inflammation Associated with Memory Decline

A presentation at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Honolulu revealed the finding of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, of a link between higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP, a marker of inflammation) and memory loss in older individuals.*

Joel H. Kramer, PsyD, and his associates compared 76 men and women who had detectable levels of C-reactive protein to 65 adults of a similar age with undetectable levels. Word list tests evaluated the participants’ verbal recall, and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain measured the volume of the medial temporal lobe, including the hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, and parahippocampal cortex.

Men and women with detectable CRP levels had smaller medial temporal lobes and decreased verbal recall compared to those whose levels were undetectable. “These findings support our working model by associating brain inflammation with alterations in brain structure and cognition,” the authors write.

Editor’s note: It is not known whether the increased inflammation revealed by CRP is a cause of the memory loss observed in this study or if it indicates the presence of another disease process. If confirmed as a causative factor in cognitive decline, simple treatments could be used to combat the condition.

—D. Dye

Reference

* American Academy of Neurology annual meeting, April 13, 2011, Honolulu.

Blueberries Inhibit Fat Formation

Blueberries Inhibit Fat Formation

In addition to numerous other recently revealed benefits, blueberries may confer an inhibitory effect on the development of adipocytes (fat cells) according to research presented at the recent Experimental Biology 2011 meeting in Washington, DC.*

Texas Woman’s University graduate student Shiwani Moghe, MS, reported the results of an experiment in which three doses of blueberry polyphenols were administered to pre-adipocyte tissue cultures derived from mice. The tissue cultures were analyzed for polyphenols’ effect on adipocyte differentiation, which is the process by which unspecialized cells acquire the features of adipocytes that synthesize and store fat.

Moghe found a dose-dependent effect of blueberry polyphenols on adipocyte differentiation. Compared to control cultures that did not receive polyphenols, those that received the low, middle, and high dose showed a 27%, 63%, and 74% reduction in lipid content, without any significant difference in lipid breakdown observed.

Editor’s note: “Determining the best dose for humans will be important,” Dr. Moghe remarked. “The promise is there for blueberries to help reduce adipose tissue from forming in the body.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Experimental Biology 2011 meeting, April, 2011, Washington, DC.

Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation Improves Endothelial Function

An article published in the journal Atherosclerosis reports a benefit for supplementation with CoQ10 on endothelial function in patients with ischemic left ventricular systolic dysfunction, a cause of heart failure.*

Researchers divided 56 men and women diagnosed with ischemic left ventricular systolic dysfunction to receive 300 mg of coenzyme Q10 per day or a placebo for eight weeks. Endothelial function was evaluated via brachial artery flow-mediated dilation, prior to and following the treatment period, and blood samples were analyzed to determine mitochondrial function, markers of oxidative stress, and other factors.

Participants who received CoQ10 experienced improvements in endothelial function, which correlated with increased mitochondrial function. No effects on blood pressure, lipids, glucose, C-reactive protein, or oxidative stress were observed in association with CoQ10 supplementation, which suggests that the benefit observed in this study is due to CoQ10’s positive effects on mitochondrial function.

Editor’s note: Endothelial dysfunction, which describes the malfunctioning of the cells that line the blood vessels, is a key event in the development of cardiovascular disease.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Atherosclerosis. 2011 February 17.

Fish Oil Pumps Up Responses to Breast Cancer Drug Tamoxifen

Fish Oil Pumps Up Responses to Breast Cancer Drug Tamoxifen

Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have found that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, may be a safe and beneficial booster for tamoxifen therapy.*

Jose Russo, MD, director of the Breast Cancer Research Laboratory at Fox Chase, recently presented the new findings at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011. Russo worked in collaboration with a team led by Andrea Manni, MD, from Pennsylvania State University. Together, they induced mammary tumors in rats and then divided the animals into four groups.

They fed the groups either a 17% fish oil diet, with or without tamoxifen, or a 20% corn oil diet, with or without tamoxifen, for eight weeks. They then analyzed gene expression patterns in the tumors. Omega-3 fatty acids produced a greater expression of genes related to cellular specialization, or differentiation, compared to corn oil. The combination of fish oil and tamoxifen reduced the expression of genes linked to tumor growth and spreading.

“If a tumor was being treated with tamoxifen, the addition of an omega-3 fatty acid diet seemed to make the tumor, at least at the molecular level, more benign and less aggressive and responsive to tamoxifen,” Russo said.

Editor’s note: This is a very important study in support of fish oil as adjuvant therapy with tamoxifen for breast cancer. This also supports Life Extension®’s long-held belief that an overabundant intake of omega-6 PUFAs has negative health effects. The traditional American diet contains copious levels of omega-6 PUFAs in comparison with omega-3 PUFAs.

—J. Finkel

Reference

* http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/221608.php. Accessed April 19, 2011.

Reduced Vitamin D Levels Could Help Explain High Blood Pressure in African Americans

An article published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine provides one explanation for the greater incidence of hypertension that occurs among African Americans in comparison with Americans of European descent.*

Ken Fiscella, MD, and colleagues compared data from 5,156 Caucasian and 1,984 adult African American participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2006. Blood pressure was measured upon enrollment and serum samples were analyzed for 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.

An average 4.0 mmHg adjusted increase in systolic blood pressure was observed in African Americans in comparison with Caucasian subjects. While 25% of the Caucasian population had vitamin D levels that were among the highest one-fifth of participants, only 2% of African Americans had levels this high. However, when the lowest fifth was analyzed, 61% of African Americans had levels that were in this range, compared to 11% of Caucasians.

Editor’s note: “We believe that simple interventions such as taking vitamin D supplements might have a positive impact on racial disparities,” Dr. Fiscella stated.

—D. Dye

Reference

* J Gen Intern Med. 2011 Apr 21.