Life Extension Magazine®

In The News: December 2014

Resveratrol boosts memory; metformin increases longevity; vitamin D deficiency increases dementia risk; and more.

By Life Extension.

Metformin Enables Diabetics To Live Longer Than Nondiabetics

Metformin Enables Diabetics To Live Longer Than Nondiabetics

Type II diabetes significantly shortens life span, but research has revealed that a medication commonly used to treat it might enable diabetics to live longer on average than those without the disease.*

Writing in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, Craig Currie and colleagues report that treatment with metformin improved survival  in diabetics in comparison with those treated with sulfonylurea drugs, as well as in comparison with untreated nondiabetics.

The study included 78,241 diabetics treated with metformin and 12,222 prescribed sulfonylureas, matched with 90,463 nondiabetic control subjects. Nondiabetics experienced a 15% lower adjusted median survival time in comparison with diabetics treated with metformin. Said differently, diabetics prescribed metformin lived 15% longer than matched, case-control nondiabetics not taking metformin, suggesting the powerful longevity-enhancing potential of this medication. For those receiving sulfonylurea monotherapy, median survival time was 38% lower than metformin-treated patients.This finding further validates Life Extension®’s long-standing position for diabetics to avoid the sulfonylurea drug class. Sulfonylurea drugs enhance insulin secretion from the pancreas regardless of ambient blood sugar level, which can result in dangerously high insulin levels.

“Metformin has been shown to have anticancer and anticardiovascular disease benefits,” Dr. Currie observed. “It can also reduce prediabetics’ chances of developing the disease by a third.”

Editor’s Note: “Surprisingly, the findings indicate that this cheap and widely prescribed diabetic drug may have beneficial effects not only on patients with diabetes but also for people without, and interestingly, people with type I diabetes,” Dr. Currie noted.

Reference

* Diabetes Obes Metab. 2014 Jul 7.

Resveratrol Improves Memory And Glucose Metabolism In Older Men And Women

Resveratrol Improves Memory And Glucose Metabolism In Older Men And Women

On June 4, 2014, the Journal of Neuroscience reported brain benefits for resveratrol, a compound found in red grapes and wine, in a trial of older men and women.*

The trial included 23 healthy, overweight individuals between the ages of 50 and 75 years who supplemented with 200 mg resveratrol per day for 26 weeks, plus 23 subjects given a placebo. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain was conducted, anthropometric measurements were obtained, and memory performance, blood factors, and vascular markers were assessed before and after treatment.

At the trial’s conclusion, participants who received resveratrol had better retention of words after a 30-minute delay in comparison with subjects who received the placebo. Neuroimaging revealed greater functional connectivity of the hippocampus (which plays an important role in memory) to several areas of the brain in the resveratrol group.

Resveratrol treatment was additionally associated with a reduction in hemoglobin A1c, a marker of long-term glucose control, and an increase in leptin, a satiety hormone, in comparison with the placebo. While body fat percentage slightly increased in the control group, it declined among those who received resveratrol.

Reference

* J Neurosci. 2014 Jun 4.

Turmeric Compound Stimulates Brain Cell Regeneration

Turmeric Compound Stimulates Brain Cell Regeneration

An article published online on September 25, 2014, in Stem Cell Research & Therapy reveals an ability for aromatic turmerone, a compound found in turmeric, to increase brain stem cell proliferation and differentiation in cell cultures, and to encourage the growth of neuron-generating areas of the brains of animals that received it.*

Earlier studies involving aromatic turmerone found that it prevented the activation of microglia cells, which trigger neuroinflammation associated with various disorders. For the current research, Adele Rueger of the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Jülich, Germany, and her associates tested aromatic turmerone’s effect on neural stem cells, which differentiate into neurons and play a role in brain self-repair. Culturing rat neural stem cells in six different concentrations of aromatic turmerone over three days resulted in an increase in stem cell proliferation of up to 80%. Cell differentiation also increased in treated cells.

Editor’s Note:  When the researchers tested the effects of aromatic turmerone in vivo, PET imaging revealed expansion of the subventricular zone and hippocampus—areas of the adult mammalian brain in which neurogenesis occurs—in animals injected with the compound.

Reference

* Stem Cell Res Ther. 2014;5:100.

Calcium Supplementation Associated With Reduced All-Cause Mortality

Findings from a study examining the association between calcium intake and subclinical cardiovascular disease in diabetics not only failed to find an adverse effect for calcium on any measure of calcified plaque, but also uncovered a modest reduction in all-cause mortality over a 9.4-year average period in women who supplemented with the mineral.*

The study included 720 participants in the Diabetes Heart Study. Questionnaires administered upon enrollment provided information concerning calcium intake. Calcified atherosclerotic plaque was measured via computed tomography.

No association between any measure of calcified plaque and calcium intake from diet or supplements was observed, nor was increased calcium intake associated with a greater risk of all-cause mortality over follow-up. On the contrary, among women who supplemented with calcium, there was a 38% lower adjusted risk of death from all causes over follow-up in association with each 500 mg increase in calcium evaluated in this study.

Editor’s Note: “Studies have raised concerns that calcium supplementation may have the unintended negative consequence of increasing cardiovascular disease risk,” authors Laura M. Raffield and associates said. “In this study, we did not observe any negative cardiovascular impacts of differing calcium intakes from diet and supplements in contrast to some previous reports.”

Reference

* Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Aug 6.

Study Adds Evidence Regarding Protective Effect Of Vitamin D Against Dementia

Study Adds Evidence Regarding Protective Effect Of Vitamin D Against Dementia

A report published in the journal Neurology provides more evidence supporting a link between optimum serum vitamin D levels and a lower risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.*

The analysis included 1,658 participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study, who did not have dementia, cardiovascular disease, or stroke upon enrollment. After almost six years, 171 subjects were diagnosed with dementia, which included 102 cases of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers found a 53% greater risk of dementia and a 69% higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease among subjects with moderate vitamin D deficiency, and more than double the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease among those with severe deficiency compared to participants with sufficient amount of vitamin D.

“Clinical trials are now needed to establish whether eating foods such as oily fish or taking vitamin D supplements can delay or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” lead researcher David J. Llewellyn stated.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Llewellyn added, “The findings are very encouraging, and even if a small number of people could benefit, this would have enormous public health implications given the devastating and costly nature of dementia.”

Reference

* Neurol. 2014 Aug 6.

Higher Vitamin E Levels Associated With Reduced Hip Fracture Risk

Higher Vitamin E Levels Associated With Reduced Hip Fracture Risk

An article published in the journal Osteoporosis International reports the outcome of an analysis of older men and women that found an association between higher vitamin E levels and lower hip fracture risk.*

The current analysis included men and women enrolled in community-based Norwegian studies conducted between 1994 and 2001. Serum alpha-tocopherol levels of 1,168 subjects between the ages of 65 to 79 who suffered hip fractures during up to 11 years of follow-up were compared to those of 1,434 control subjects from the same cohort.

Higher vitamin E serum levels were associated with reduced hip fracture risk. Among subjects in the lowest 25% of serum alpha-tocopherol, the risk of hip fracture was 51% higher than among those whose levels were among the top 25%. Adjustment for body mass index, serum vitamin D levels, and other factors did not alter results significantly.

Editor’s Note: The authors observed that oxidative stress has been suggested as a contributor to osteoporosis and fractures, and that vitamin E has strong antioxidant properties.

Reference

* Osteoporos Int. 2014 Aug 4.

Higher Vitamin D Levels Linked With Lower Risk Of Premature Mortality

Higher Vitamin D Levels Linked With Lower Risk Of Premature Mortality

The British Medical Journal published the results of a meta-analysis that indicate having a higher level of vitamin D is associated not only with a lower risk of dying from any cause over follow-up, but also with a reduction in the risk of dying from cancer among those with a history of the disease.*

The analysis included data from seven cohorts plus participants in NHANES III (The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey). For men and women whose vitamin D levels were among the lowest one-fifth of subjects, there was a 57% higher risk of dying from any cause in comparison with those whose levels were among the top fifth. For those with the lowest vitamin D levels who did not have a history of cardiovascular disease, the risk of cardiovascular mortality was 41% greater than subjects whose levels were highest, and among those with a history of the disease, the risk was 65% higher.

Editor’s Note: When the risk of dying from cancer was examined, a different picture emerged. In subjects with no history of cancer, there was no significant difference in the risk of dying among those with highest and lowest vitamin D levels. However, among those with a history of the disease, the risk was 70% greater in subjects with lowest vitamin D category compared to that with highest vitamin D, indicating that the vitamin may play a role in improving prognosis.

Reference

* BMJ. 2014 Jun 17.

Testosterone Replacement Enhances Aerobic Capacity

Testosterone Replacement Enhances Aerobic Capacity

The joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society was the site of a presentation on June 22, 2014, concerning findings obtained from a clinical trial of men with limited mobility that revealed improved aerobic capacity among those treated with testosterone.*

The current study evaluated data from 64 men with low testosterone enrolled in the Testosterone in Older Men with Mobility Limitation Trial. Participants in the trial received 10 mg testosterone in gel form or a placebo gel daily for six months. Cycle exercise tests conducted at the beginning and end of the treatment period provided measures of aerobic function, including peak oxygen uptake and gas exchange lactate threshold.

At the trial’s conclusion, men who received a placebo saw a reduction in peak oxygen uptake, while those treated with testosterone experienced improvement.

Editor’s Note: “If proven safe over the long term, restoring testosterone to normal levels may improve an important measure of physical performance and enhance their quality of life,” lead author Thomas W. Storer, PhD, observed.

Reference

* Joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society. June 22, 2014.

Fish Oil Associated With Brain Volume Preservation

Fish Oil Associated With Brain Volume Preservation

A report published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia describes a protective effect for fish oil supplementation on the maintenance of brain volume and cognitive function in older men and women.*

The study included 193 Alzheimer’s disease patients, 397 individuals with mild cognitive impairment, and 229 cognitively normal individuals who participated in the Alzheimer’s disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a five-year study designed to evaluate changes in cognition and brain structure in older men and women. Subjects underwent neuropsychological testing and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain upon enrollment and every six months. The analysis included 117 subjects who regularly used fish oil supplements at the initial study visit, among whom a significant percentage reported continued use at subsequent visits.

While average hippocampus and cerebral cortex gray matter volume decreased over time in the group as a whole, the use of fish oil was associated with improvements in these areas in those who were noncarriers of the apolipoprotein E4 gene.

Editor’s Note: Those who used fish oil over follow-up had better scores of cognitive function at any time over the course of the study; however, the effect mainly occurred among those who were not carriers of the apolipoprotein E4 gene, which has been linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

Reference

* Alz Dementia. 2014 Jun 18.

Fasting Lowers Cholesterol In Prediabetics

Fasting Lowers Cholesterol In Prediabetics

A presentation at the 2014 American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions revealed a benefit over time for fasting on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in individuals with prediabetes, defined as elevated blood sugar that is not yet diagnostic of diabetes.*

Acting on the findings of a 2011 study of fasting in healthy people, Benjamin Horne and colleagues studied its effects in prediabetics with at least three metabolic syndrome components. “During actual fasting days, cholesterol went up slightly in this study, as it did in our prior study of healthy people, but we did notice that over a six-week period cholesterol levels decreased by about 12% in addition to the weight loss,” Dr. Horne reported. “Because we expect that the cholesterol was used for energy during the fasting episodes and likely came from fat cells, this leads us to believe fasting may be an effective diabetes intervention.”

Editor’s Note: “Although fasting may protect against diabetes, it’s important to keep in mind that these results were not instantaneous in the studies that we performed,” Dr. Horne noted. “It takes time. How long and how often people should fast for health benefits are additional questions we’re just beginning to examine.”

Reference

* 2014 American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions. June 14, 2014.

Treat Aging To Prevent Disease

Treat Aging To Prevent Disease

On July 24, 2014, in the journal Nature, gerontologist Luigi Fontana, professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and colleagues from the University of Southern California, recommended tackling aging, rather than the myriad of diseases associated with the process, in order to promote health and extend life.* “As targeting diseases has helped people live longer, they are spending more years being sick with multiple disorders related to aging, and that’s expensive,” Dr. Fontana remarked.

The authors of the commentary observe that chronic diseases often occur simultaneously, and that interventions, including diet and specific drugs, frequently result in the prevention or delay of several conditions. Research conducted by Dr. Fontana involving dietary restriction has shown that the practice results in decreased blood pressure and inflammation, resulting in cardiac tissue that is characteristic of chronologically younger individuals. Adoption of a low-calorie regimen by more people could help protect the heart and prevent a number of aging-associated conditions.

Editor’s Note: “It takes 30 or 40 years of an unhealthy lifestyle and activation of aging-related pathways from metabolic abnormalities such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type II diabetes to give a person heart failure in his 60s,” Dr. Fontana noted. “So we propose using lifestyle interventions—such as a personalized healthy diet and exercise program—to down-regulate aging pathways so the patient avoids heart failure in the first place.”

Reference

*Nature. 2014 Jul 24.

Subscribe to Life Extension Magazine®

Subscribe Now

Advertise in Life Extension Magazine®

Learn More