Life Extension Magazine®

In The News: October 2012

Study supported by Life Extension® finds fish oil, olive fruit extract, and sesame lignans lower levels of inflammatory cytokines; metformin may encourage the growth of new neurons in the brain.

By Life Extension.

Take Your Vitamin D with Largest Meal of the Day

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that does not absorb well on an empty stomach or with a small meal.

A study evaluated a small group of people who took vitamin D on an empty stomach or with a light meal. When these people were instructed instead to take their vitamin D with the largest meal of the day, there was a remarkable 56.7% increase in serum blood (25-hydroxyvitamin D) levels after two to three months.*

This study, conducted at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Bone Clinic, demonstrates how much better fat-soluble nutrients absorb when taken with a meal that contains some fat, which is usually the heaviest meal of the day. It helps explain why people who take higher doses of vitamin D sometimes fail to achieve optimal blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (over 50 ng/mL.)

Nutrients that should be taken with heaviest meal of the day include fish oil, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, gamma tocopherol, astaxanthin, and of course, vitamin D.

* J Bone Miner Res. 2010 Apr;25(4):928-30.

Lower DHEA Levels Associated with Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Lower DHEA Levels Associated with Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

The Endocrine Society's Annual Meeting was the site of a presentation of the finding of a protective effect for higher levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) against the risk of cardiovascular events in men.*

Asa Tivesten, MD, and colleagues analyzed data from 2,416 men enrolled in the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Sweden study. Blood samples obtained upon enrollment were analyzed for DHEA and DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S).

Over a five year follow-up, 485 cases of fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular events were documented. Having a higher serum DHEA was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events, as was having a higher level of DHEA-S. Men whose DHEA-S was among the lowest one-fourth participants had a 25% higher risk of events compared to the rest of the subjects, and those whose levels of both DHEA and DHEA-S were among the lowest fourth had a 34% higher risk of any major cardiovascular event.

Editor's Note: DHEA, produced by the adrenal glands, acts as a precursor to the hormones estradiol and testosterone. While some research findings have suggested an association between increased DHEA levels and a reduction in heart disease, the majority of the studies involving DHEA have been small and results have not always been conclusive.

—D. Dye

* Endocrine Society 94th Annual Meeting, June 23, 2012 Houston.

Metformin Shows Promise for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer

At the Pancreatic Cancer: Progress and Challenges conference, Christopher Heeschen, MD, PhD, reported positive results for metformin in experiments involving pancreatic cancer cell cultures and mice implanted with pancreatic cancer tumors.* The drug helps eliminate cancer stem cells, a population of cells that are resistant to chemotherapy and which may be responsible for the initiation and recurrence of the disease.

Pretreatment of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cancer stem cells with metformin resulted in activation of AMPK, an enzyme that helps regulate cellular energy. Treatment with a combination of gemcitabine (the standard chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer) and metformin eradicated cancer stem cells as well as other malignant cells. When Dr. Heeschen's team implanted immunocompromised mice with pancreatic cancer tumors and treated them with gemcitabine and/or metformin, animals that received both drugs had fewer tumors and a lower incidence of relapse in comparison with those that received either drug alone.

Editor's Note: Metformin is currently prescribed to diabetic patients and has shown potential as a cancer preventive and treatment, in addition to other possible uses.

—D. Dye

* American Association for Cancer Research Pancreatic Cancer: Progress and Challenges, June 18-21, 2012, Lake Tahoe, NV.

Exercise May Be Needed for Dietary Restriction Benefits

Exercise May Be Needed for Dietary Restriction Benefits

In the journal Cell Metabolism, scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging report the outcome of experiments that suggest that it may be necessary to be physically active in order to derive maximum benefit from dietary restriction (DR). Significant restriction of the intake of a particular nutrient or total calories has extended the life span of numerous species in laboratory experiments; however, researchers are still clarifying the mechanisms involved in the technique.*

In a study involving fruit flies, Pankaj Kapahi, PhD, and colleagues observed that the insects became more physically active when their protein source was restricted. The increased physical activity observed in the dietary-restricted flies was associated with greater fat synthesis and breakdown. When fat synthesis in muscle tissue was blocked, so was the life-extending benefit of dietary restriction. And in flies whose motion was limited, the extended life span that normally results from a restricted diet did not occur.

Editor's Note: The researchers additionally determined that in flies genetically engineered to overexpress the hormone AKH (Adipokinetic Hormone), metabolism and activity levels were enhanced and life span was extended, even without dietary restriction. The authors suggest that molecules such as AKH could potentially serve as a dietary restriction mimetic.

—D. Dye

* Cell Metab. 2012 Jul 3;16:97-103.

Higher Dose Vitamin D Needed for Fracture Prevention

Higher Dose Vitamin D Needed for Fracture Prevention

A pooled analysis of 11 clinical trials reported in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reveals a protective effect for high dose vitamin D supplementation against the risk of fracture in older men and women.* While 800 IU or more of the vitamin was associated with reduced fracture risk, lower doses did not appear to be effective.

Scientists analyzed data from 31,022 individuals age 65 and older who were assigned to receive oral vitamin D or a placebo in one of 11 randomized, controlled trials. Among those whose vitamin D was among the top 25% of subjects at a median dose of 800 IU per day, there was a 30% lower adjusted risk of hip fracture and a 14% lower risk of nonvertebral fractures in comparison with those whose vitamin D intake was lowest.

Editor's Note: The study found no fracture-preventive benefit for doses lower than 800 IU per day, indicating that higher doses may be needed, particularly among those at risk for osteoporosis and fracture. This study publishes what Life Extension has already used to rebut government recommendations against vitamin D.

—D. Dye

* N Engl J Med. 2012 Jul 5;367(1):40-9.

Iron Supplementation Reduces Fatigue in Premenopausal Women

Iron Supplementation Reduces Fatigue in Premenopausal Women

The results of a trial described in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reveal a benefit for iron supplements in iron-deficient (but nonanemic) premenopausal women who experienced fatigue.*

Dr. Bernard Favrat and his associates enrolled 198 women aged 18 to 53 for the current trial. Participants were limited to those who had deficient serum ferritin levels of less than 50 micrograms per liter and hemoglobin levels above 12 grams per deciliter. Subjects were divided to receive 80 milligrams iron or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. Fatigue was evaluated at the beginning and end of the study, and blood samples were analyzed for hemoglobin and ferritin at baseline and at 6 and 12 weeks.

Hemoglobin, ferritin, and other factors increased after 6 weeks among women who received iron and continued to be improved at 12 weeks, in contrast with the placebo group, for whom some values declined by the end of the study.

Editor's Note: Reduced iron levels are common among women of childbearing age; however, consuming too much iron increases free radical damage, which has been linked to a number of diseases.

—D. Dye

* Can Med Assoc J. 2012 Jul 9.

Life Extension® Supports Nutritional Research in Chronic Kidney Disease

In a study supported by Life Extension®, recognized by the National Kidney Foundation, and published in the Journal of Renal Nutrition, researchers in Texas evaluated the effects of fish oil ingestion in thirty-one patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).*

The scientists conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in non-dialysis chronic kidney disease patients to evaluate a nutritional supplement vs. placebo upon a variety of proinflammatory parameters. The cytokines evaluated in the study included interleukin 1b (IL-1b) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). The active treatment group received fish oil containing 1,400 mg of EPA and 1,000 mg of DHA daily, along with olive fruit extract (600 mg daily), and sesame lignans (20 mg daily).

The researchers discovered that fish oil, olive fruit extract, and sesame lignans had a significant, beneficial effect upon the inflammatory cytokine IL-1b with lower IL-1b levels in those taking fish oil-olive fruit- sesame lignans compared to the inactive placebo group.

Editor's Note: An important consideration in chronic kidney disease, a leading cause of disability in the United States, is excess production of proinflammatory factors called cytokines. These inflammatory factors are implicated in a variety of health conditions, including cardiovascular and joint health, as well as kidney health.

—D. Dye

* J Ren Nutr. 2012 Jan 26.

Researchers Recommend Increase in Vitamin C Dietary Allowance

Researchers Recommend Increase in Vitamin C Dietary Allowance

Scientists at Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute are proposing an increase in the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C from the current level of 90 milligrams per day for men and 75 milligrams for women, to a modest intake of 200 milligrams. Writing in a recent issue of Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Professor Balz Frei and his colleagues observe that the current RDA is based on the amount necessary to prevent scurvy and that present methods of evaluating nutrients such as vitamin C have often failed to find further disease-preventive benefits due to faulty methodology.*

Dr. Frei and his coauthors argue that these trials do not always demonstrate the protective properties of compounds already present in the human body, whose benefits may be evident only after many years of optimal intake.

Editor's Note: The authors remark that increased long-term intake of vitamin C will provide greater tissue saturation at a cost of only a penny per day if consumed as a supplement, resulting in a significant payoff of lowered risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as a reduction in the conditions that contribute to these diseases, including inflammation.

—D. Dye

* Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012 Sep;52(9):815-29.

Metformin May Make Brain Cells Grow

Metformin May Make Brain Cells Grow

A recent study in Cell Stem Cell reports on an interesting and potentially beneficial side effect of the diabetes drug metformin: it may encourage the growth of new neurons in the brain.* In mice, this new growth lead to improved intelligence.

Freda Miller, the study's lead author from the University of Toronto-affiliated Hospital for Sick Children is encouraged because the drug is already widely used and considered safe. Mice who took the metformin displayed a plethora of new neurons and it was observed that they had an easier time with some standard mazes during spatial learning tests.

While many people taking metformin have reported some form of cognitive improvement, up until now that was attributed to better control of the diabetes. The possibility is now open that the daily doses of metformin were responsible for these improvements. This discovery could hold the key to successfully treating Alzheimer's symptoms.

—M. Richmond

* Available at: http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/retrieve/pii/s1934590912001749. Accessed July 27, 2012.

Bees Can Reverse Brain Aging, May Hold Clues for Alzheimer's

In a recent study published in the journal Experimental Gerontology, a team of scientists from Arizona State University (ASU) and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, led by Gro Amdam, an associate professor in ASU's School of Life Sciences, presented findings that show that tricking older, foraging bees into doing social tasks inside the nest causes changes in the molecular structure of their brains.*

"We knew from previous research that when bees stay in the nest and take care of larvae - the bee babies - they remain mentally competent for as long as we observe them," said Amdam. "However, after a period of nursing, bees fly out gathering food and begin aging very quickly. After just two weeks, foraging bees have worn wings, hairless bodies, and more importantly, lose brain function - basically measured as the ability to learn new things. We wanted to find out if there was plasticity in this aging pattern so we asked the question, 'What would happen if we asked the foraging bees to take care of larval babies again?"

Researchers discovered that after 10 days, about 50% of the older bees caring for the nest and larvae had significantly improved their ability to learn new things

"Maybe social interventions - changing how you deal with your surroundings - is something we can do today to help our brains stay younger," said Amdam. "Since the proteins being researched in people are the same proteins bees have, these proteins may be able to spontaneously respond to specific social experiences."

—M. Richmond

* Available at: https://asunews.asu.edu/20120702_bee_brainaging. Accessed July 25, 2012.

Generic Plavix Competitors Set to Distribute

Generic Plavix Competitors Set to Distribute

In a win for insurance companies and those paying out of pocket for anti-clotting drugs, the patent for the blockbuster drug, Plavix®, recently expired. Shortly following the expiration, the FDA moved quickly to approve upwards of ten generic versions of the drug.*

Plavix®, made by Bristol-Myers Squib, is one of the most profitable drugs of all time and has been used for secondary prevention of heart attacks and stroke in patients who have suffered these events.

With the generic version soon becoming readily available, it is expected that insurance companies will automatically switch patients over to the less expensive version. According to Bristol-Meyer's Squib's 2011 annual report, they state that they "expect a rapid, precipitous, and material decline in Plavix® net sales" once generic drugs hit the market.

—M. Richmond

* Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/bt-co-20120725-715936.html. Accessed July 25, 2012.

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