Life Extension Magazine®

In The News: May 2015

Coffee lowers melanoma risk; common drugs increase dementia risk; metformin may inhibit lung cancer; glucosamine-chondroitin as effective as Celebrex®; sulforaphane targets prostate cancer; and B vitamins beneficial against mild cognitive impairment.

By Life Extension.

Billionaire Inventor Answers Question: “What Is Life?”

Billionaire Inventor Answers Question: “What Is Life?”

In the November 2014 issue of Life Extension®, we profiled billionaire scientist J. Craig Venter, whose company is building the largest human genome-sequencing database in the world. By sequencing the genomes of people who are healthy, sick, young, and old, the database is expected to eventually offer insights into the aging process.

The February 10, 2015 edition of the Wall Street Journal* featured an interview with Craig Venter in which he provided an incredibly simple answer to the question, “What is life?” His reply was:

“The short answer is life is a DNA software-driven system, at least on this planet, as far as we know. Every species is driven by their DNA software, totally and completely.

“The much more complicated answer deals with energy balance in a cellular system and transporting molecules in and out. But it all gets down to reading your DNA software from second to second in every one of your cells, making new proteins, making new versions of your cells. Without the software, you can’t make new hardware.”

His response reveals how we may soon be able to program our DNA to achieve longer healthy life spans.

Many of the nutrients used by Life Extension® members facilitate DNA repair, which is a crucial element to sustaining our lives until DNA software programming becomes medically feasible.

Reference

* Wall Street Journal. 2015 Feb 10.

Researchers Hope Sequencing Whale Genome Will Increase Human Life Span

Researchers Hope Sequencing Whale Genome Will Increase Human Life Span

Researchers, with the support of Life Extension Foundation® and the Methuselah Foundation, recently charted the genome of the bowhead whale—which is most likely the longest-living mammal on the planet. Results of this groundbreaking study were published in the January issue of the journal Cell Reports.*

According to scientists, the whales, which can live as long as 200 years, have a genome that is full of clues to the animals’ exceptional longevity and amazing disease resistance. Compared to the genomes of other creatures, the researchers found that bowhead whales have unique alterations in a gene called ERCC1, which is involved in repairing damaged DNA. The alternations in this gene could provide protection against cancer. The team, led by João Pedro de Magalhaes, a biologist and expert in aging science at the University of Liverpool, England, also discovered that a gene called PCNA has been duplicated. The gene is associated with cell growth and DNA repair, and the duplication could increase longevity.

Editor’s Note: Magalhaes hopes to increase human life span by studying the genetic code of long-lived mammals other than humans. “My own view is that different long-lived species use different tricks to evolve long life spans, and there aren’t many genes in common,” he said. “But you do find some common pathways, so there may be common patterns.”

Reference

* Cell Rep. 2015 Jan 6;10(1):112-22.

Pycnogenol® Boosts Cognitive Function

Pycnogenol® Boosts Cognitive Function

A report published in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences revealed that Pycnogenol®, derived from French maritime pine bark, improved memory, focus, and the decision-making ability of healthy professionals between the ages of 35 to 55.*

In the study of 59 professional men and women, 30 were supplemented with 150 mg Pycnogenol® per day for 12 weeks while 29 acted as controls. Tests of attention, memory, and executive function were conducted before and after the study period and blood samples were analyzed for free radicals and other factors.

By the end of the study, plasma-free radicals were lower among those who received Pycnogenol®, while varying nonsignificantly among the control group. Although aspects of cognitive function improved in both groups, the increase was more significant in the Pycnogenol® group.

Editor’s Note: Subjects given the Pycnogenol® showed improvements in mood, mental performance, sustained attention, and subjective memory, as well as in daily tasks such as simple decision making and dealing with people.

Reference

* J Neurosurg Sci. 2014 Dec;58(4):239-48.

Marinating Meat In Beer Before Barbequing Cuts Cancer Risk

Marinating Meat In Beer Before Barbequing Cuts Cancer Risk

Cooking meat at high temperatures has been linked to cancer-causing chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). But new research published in Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A found marinating pork in beer before grilling reduced the amount of carcinogens caused by the cooking process.*

The researchers marinated samples of pork for four hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer, or a black beer ale, then cooked them to a well-done temperature on a charcoal grill. While all three beers reduced total HCA formation in the pork, the black beer was the most efficient, with 90% inhibition.

Previous research by the same study authors confirmed that the same beers also reduced the formation of harmful chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which have been directly linked to DNA damage and the development of tumors in cells of the colon, breast, prostate and lymph system.

Editor’s Note: When it comes to taste, the marinade does impart a subtle beer flavor to the meat. Although most of the liquid is discarded, the pork may retain some alcohol even after cooking. To avoid alcohol consumption, use a non-alcoholic beer.

Reference

* Food Addit Contam Part A: Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2015 Jan 21.

Coffee Drinkers Have Lower Melanoma Risk

Coffee Drinkers Have Lower Melanoma Risk

An article published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reveals a link between increased coffee consumption and a reduced risk of malignant melanoma.*

The analysis, conducted by Erikka Loftfield, MPH, and colleagues, included 447,357 participants in the National Institutes of Health-AARP prospective study initiated in 1995-1996. Dietary questionnaires completed upon enrollment were evaluated for the intake of regular and decaffeinated coffee. The subjects were followed for a median of 10.5 years, during which 2,904 cases of malignant melanoma were diagnosed.

A trend was observed between increasing coffee intake and a decreasing risk of malignant melanoma over follow-up. Among men and women who drank four or more cups of coffee per day, there was an adjusted 20% lower risk of developing malignant melanoma in comparison with the risk experienced by those who didn’t drink coffee.

Editor’s Note: The decrease in the risk of melanoma by coffee drinking was observed only in association with caffeinated coffee and was restricted to those with malignant melanoma as opposed to melanoma in situ.

Reference

* J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015.

Higher Folate Levels Associated With Improved Survival In Breast Cancer Patients

Higher Folate Levels Associated With Improved Survival In Breast Cancer Patients

In Nutrition and Cancer, researchers from California State University report better survival among postmenopausal breast cancer patients with higher plasma levels of the B vitamin folate.*

The study included 471 postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1994 and 1995. Stored plasma samples collected after diagnosis were analyzed for total folate (the sum of all folate vitamers), and the vitamers folic acid, tetrahydrofolic acid (THF), 5-methyl tetrahydrofolic acid, and 5-formylTHF/MeFox. Dietary questionnaires provided information on food intake and supplement use. The women were followed for almost seven years, during which 85 deaths occurred.

Among women whose total folate levels were among the top 25% of all subjects, there was a 59% lower risk of mortality over follow-up in comparison with those whose levels were among the lowest 25%. Supplemental folic acid and total folate intakes were strongly, positively associated with circulating total folate and all vitamer levels.

Editor’s Note: “Folic acid supplementation compared to dietary folate alone, was not only significantly associated, but also much more highly correlated with circulating total folate concentrations, suggesting that in the absence of folic acid fortification and/or consuming a low-folate diet, folic acid supplementation may improve survival after breast cancer diagnosis,” Archana Jaiswal McEligot, of Cal State Fullerton, and colleagues conclude.

Reference

* Nutr Cancer. 2015 Feb 3.

Common Drugs Increase Risk Of Dementia And Alzheimer’s

Common Drugs Increase Risk Of Dementia And Alzheimer’s

Prolonged use of certain medications can increase a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.*

In the study, researchers at the University of Seattle in Washington looked at common drugs that have an anticholinergic effect, indicating they block a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, affecting the nervous system and causing side effects such as drowsiness, blurred vision, and poor memory. People with Alzheimer’s often lack adequate level of acetylcholine.

Some medications that fall into this class include older tricyclic antidepressants such as doxepin, antihistamines like Benadryl® (diphenhydramine), and medications such as Detrol® (tolterodine), which treats overactive bladder.

The study analyzed data from 3,434 participants over the age of 64 with no diagnosis of dementia to determine the level of anticholinergic medications they consumed. The data also determines how many participants later developed dementia or Alzheimer’s.

After seven years of follow-up, researchers found that 797 participants who had taken the anticholinergic drugs developed dementia. Of those, 637 participants (18.5%) eventually developed Alzheimer’s disease.

Editor’s Note: Many newer drugs to treat these conditions do not have anticholinergic effects, such as the antidepressant Prozac® and antihistamines such as loratadine (Claritin®).

Reference

* JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Jan 26.

Metformin May Lower Lung Cancer Risk

Metformin May Lower Lung Cancer Risk

Each year, around 20,000 American nonsmokers die of lung cancer. This startling number makes lung cancer a leading killer even in individuals who never smoked.

According to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, diabetic nonsmokers who took metformin had a lower lung cancer risk.*

Lori Sakoda, PhD, MPH, of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study of 47,351 diabetic patients 40 years or older who completed a health-related survey between 1994 and 1996. Information on their diabetes medications was collected from pharmacy records. Approximately 46% of them filled two or more metformin prescriptions within a six-month period.

During 15 years of follow-up, 747 patients were diagnosed with lung cancer. Of them, 80 were nonsmokers, and 203 currently smoked. While metformin use was not associated with lower lung cancer risk overall, the risk was 43% lower among diabetic patients who had never smoked, and the risk appeared to decrease with longer use. Nonsmokers who used metformin for five years or longer reduced their lung cancer risk by 52%.

Editor’s Note: “Additional large, well-conducted studies are needed to clarify whether metformin may be used to prevent lung or other cancers, particularly in specific subpopulations, such as nonsmokers,” said Sakoda.

Reference

* Cancer Prev Res. 2015 Feb 2.

Glucosamine And Chondroitin As Effective As Celebrex® In Some Osteoarthritis Patients

Glucosamine And Chondroitin As Effective As Celebrex® In Some Osteoarthritis Patients

An article published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases reported that a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate might provide clinically significant pain relief for patients with moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis (OA) pain, despite being ineffective against milder OA pain.*

The randomized controlled clinical trial conducted by Marc C. Hochberg, MD, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, and colleagues found that a glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate product produced a 50.1% decrease in Western Ontario and McMaster OA index (WOMAC) pain, which is comparable to the 50.2% decrease in COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib (Celebrex®) patients. Further results showed a 45.5% reduction in functional disability; a 46.9% reduction in stiffness; a 53% reduction in swelling; and a 56% reduction in joint effusion.

Editor’s Note: “This study confirms the efficacy of the combination of pharmaceutical grade-chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine in the long term and suggests that, considering its excellent safety profile, it may be a good alternative for patients with cardiovascular or gastrointestinal problems, for whom chronic treatment with NSAIDs cannot be recommended,” said Prof. Hochberg.

Reference

* Ann Rheum Dis. 2015 Jan 14.

Sulforaphane From Cruciferous Vegetables May Target Prostate Cancer

Sulforaphane From Cruciferous VegetablesMay Target Prostate Cancer

Researchers from Oregon State University and the Texas A&M Health Science Center report in the journal Oncogenesis a potential benefit for sulforaphane in treating metastatic prostate cancer.* While a number of previous investigations have suggested a protective role for the compound, the current study adds additional evidence to the possible effectiveness of sulforaphane in cancer therapy.*

While researching the anticancer benefits of sulforaphane in previous research, Emily Ho and her colleagues identified an enzyme in prostate cancer cells that is affected by exposure to the compound. The enzyme, SUV39H1, could be a new therapeutic target in advanced prostate cancer.

An ongoing trial involving the use of sulforaphane in men at high risk of prostate cancer will determine the safety of high-dose supplements.

Editor’s Note: Sulforaphane is obtained from cruciferous vegetables. However, the amounts provided by foods are insufficient for cancer treatment, which would require supplemental doses.

Reference

* Oncogenesis . 2014 Dec 8;3:e131.

Higher B Vitamin Intake Associated With Better Cognitive Function

Higher B Vitamin Intake Associated With Better Cognitive Function

In an article published in Nutrition Journal, researchers report a beneficial effect for increased B vitamin intake on cognitive function in individuals with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.*

The study included 100 participants with mild cognitive impairment, 100 Alzheimer’s disease patients, and 121 normal individuals. Subjects completed eight tests of cognitive function and answered questions regarding dietary intake from food and supplements on the day prior to blood analysis of B vitamin and homocysteine levels.

Higher intake of vitamins B2, B6, B12, and folate was associated with lower plasma homocysteine. Improvement in several test scores among all subjects was associated with increased intake of vitamins B2, B6, and folate. When Alzheimer’s patients were examined, greater intake of vitamins B2, B6, B12, and folic acid was associated with improved scores.

Editor’s Note: Those with mild cognitive impairment also experienced better test scores in association with vitamins B2, B6, and folate, although the number of tests that showed improvements was fewer than that of the Alzheimer’s disease group.

Reference

* Nutr J. 2014 Dec 17.

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