Life Extension Magazine®

In The News: August 2015

Coffee may lower coronary artery calcium; broccoli extract inhibits oral cancer; calorie restriction prevents muscle loss; eight nutrients protect aging brain; coffee may inhibit multiple sclerosis; glucosamine blocks inflammation; vitamin D may block pancreatic cancer; selenium prevents damage after cardiac arrest; and much more.

By Life Extension.

Moderate Coffee Consumption Linked With Lower Coronary Artery Calcium

Moderate Coffee Consumption Linked With Lower Coronary Artery Calcium

The journal Heart published the finding of reduced coronary artery calcium scores in men and women with a moderate daily intake of coffee in comparison with those who abstained from the beverage.*

The current investigation included 25,138 participants in the Kangbuk Samsung Health Study, which involved men and women who received comprehensive examinations yearly or every other year at one of two Korean health care centers. Subjects in the current study were limited to those without cardiovascular disease. Dietary questionnaire responses provided data on coffee intake. Participants underwent cardiac computed tomography scans for coronary artery calcium scoring between 2011 and 2013.

Consuming one to less than three cups coffee per day was associated with an adjusted 13% lower risk of detectable coronary artery calcium in comparison with those who drank no coffee, and the intake of three to less than five cups was associated with a 40% lower risk.

Editor’s Note: Coronary artery calcium is a subclinical marker of coronary atherosclerosis and is predictive of future heart disease.


* Heart. 2015 May 1;101(9):686-91.

Broccoli Sprout Extract Shows Promise For Head And Neck Cancer Prevention

Broccoli Sprout Extract Shows Promise For Head And Neck Cancer Prevention

The outcome of research reported at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting revealed a protective effect for an extract of broccoli sprouts against oral cancer.* The sprouts are high in sulforaphane, a compound that occurs in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables whose intake has been associated with protection against environmental carcinogens and several cancers.

Acting on positive findings in mice predisposed to the disease, Julie Bauman, MD, MPH, and her associates tested the effect of broccoli sprout extract in 10 healthy human volunteers. The extract was associated with protective changes in the lining of the subjects’ mouths, indicating it was well-absorbed and directed to at-risk tissue. These preliminary studies are the basis for a clinical trial that will be conducted next year, which will involve 40 participants successfully treated for head and neck cancer who will be given broccoli seed powder capsules.

Editor’s Note: “People who are cured of head and neck cancer are still at very high risk for a second cancer in their mouth or throat, and, unfortunately, these second cancers are commonly fatal,” noted Dr. Bauman, who is co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Head and Neck Cancer Center of Excellence. “So we’re developing a safe, natural molecule found in cruciferous vegetables to protect the oral lining where these cancers form.”


* American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting. 2015 Apr 18-22.

Calorie Restriction Protects And Preserves Muscle Mass In Middle Age

No Link Between Calcium Supplements And Coronary Artery Calcification In Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

According to a study reported in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, reducing the amount of calories you consume can preserve muscle mass and function during middle age and in later years.*

Researchers at Chang Gung University in Taiwan fed groups of middle-aged and young rats a very high-calorie diet, then compared them to a control group fed a normal diet. The experimental group was slowly eased into their restricted diet, receiving 10% fewer calories in the first week, 25% fewer in the second and 40% fewer for the remainder of the study period.

After 14 weeks, the scientists found that the younger rats had a reduction in muscle mass due to their low-caloric intake while the older rats’ muscle mass remained the same despite consuming far fewer calories. The older rodents also scored as well as the younger rats on measures of muscle metabolism.

Editor’s Note: “To date, caloric restriction is the only non-pharmaceutical and non-genetic strategy that increases the life span of animals and provides health benefits. Regarding skeletal muscle, an organ that is critical for movement and fuel metabolism, studies have reported that CR attenuates age-related muscle loss,” the researchers said.


* Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Apr 14.

Top Eight Nutrients For Aging Brain

Top Eight Nutrients For Aging Brain

As people age, they may begin to experience a wide range of cognitive issues—from decreased critical thinking to dementia and Alzheimer’s. In a recent paper published by the Institute of Food Technology, editor Linda Milo Ohr listed the top eight nutrients that protect the aging brain.* They include:

Cocoa flavanols, which improve function of a specific age-related memory portion of the brain called the dentate gyrus; omega-3 fatty acids to improve recognition memory, spatial memory, and adverse response retention; combination of phosphatidylserine and phosphatidic acid, which two pilot studies show can benefit memory, mood, and cognitive function; walnuts to delay the onset of (or slow progression of) Alzheimer’s disease in mice; citicoline to protect the brain from free radical damage; choline to prevent brain chemistry changes that result in cognitive decline; magnesium for those who’ve experienced a concussion; and blueberries to increase neural signaling in brain center.

Editor’s Note: According to a 2014 study by the American Association of Retired People, brain health is the second most important component of a healthy lifestyle.


* ScienceDaily. 2015 Apr 15.

Coffee Consumption Could Help Protect Against Multiple Sclerosis

Coffee Consumption Could Help Protect Against Multiple Sclerosis

A presentation at the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting revealed a protective effect for coffee drinking against the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive disease of the nervous system.*

Ellen Mowry, MD, MCR, and colleagues evaluated data from two case-control studies, conducted in Sweden and the United States. The Swedish study compared 1,629 individuals with MS to 2,807 subjects without the disease, and the American study included 584 MS patients and 581 controls. The amount of coffee consumed one, five, or 10 years before diagnosis was ascertained among those with the disease, and was compared to the intake of those without MS during a similar time period.

The researchers observed a 33% lower risk of MS among subjects who consumed at least six cups coffee per day the year before diagnosis in comparison with those who did not consume coffee at the same point in time.

Editor’s Note: In the US study, drinking four cups or more per day was associated with a similar benefit. High intake of coffee five or 10 years prior to diagnosis was also associated with significant protection.


* 2015 Apr 18-25. American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting, Washington, DC.

Trial Finds Less Inflammation In Adults Supplemented With Glucosamine/Chondroitin

Trial Finds Less Inflammation In Adults Supplemented With Glucosamine/Chondroitin

PLoS One reported the outcome of a double-blind, crossover study that found supplementation with chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride, a nutritional combination used to alleviate symptoms of arthritis, was associated with a reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation.*

The study randomized 18 overweight men and women between the ages of 20 and 55 years to receive 1,200 mg per day chondroitin sulfate and 1,500 mg per day glucosamine hydrochloride, or a placebo, for 28 days, followed by an equal number of days during which no supplements were given. This was followed by another 28-day phase in which the treatments were switched. Blood samples collected at the beginning of the study and after each 28-day period were analyzed for serum C-reactive protein and other inflammatory markers, as well as additional factors.

C-reactive protein levels were 23% lower after treatment with glucosamine/chondroitin in comparison with the placebo.

Editor’s Note: The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center investigators uncovered a reduction in the cytokine activity pathway following treatment with glucosamine/chondroitin.


* PLoS One. 2015 Feb 26.

Pancreatic Cancer May Be Linked To Insufficient Vitamin D

Pancreatic Cancer May Be Linked To Insufficient Vitamin D

An article published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology confirmed an association between increased latitude and greater cloud cover as risk factors for pancreatic cancer.* Higher latitudes receive less ultraviolet light irradiance than latitudes nearer to the equator, which can result in insufficient vitamin D formation in the individuals who reside there. The study is the first to provide evidence of an association between pancreatic cancer and vitamin D insufficiency.

Using 2008 data from 107 countries, Cedric F. Garland, DrPH, and colleagues at the University of California San Diego examined the association between cloud-adjusted ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiance and pancreatic cancer incidence rates. They found that the risk of cancer of the pancreas was six times greater among residents of countries with low UVB irradiance compared to countries with high irradiance, even after adjustment for other risk factors, including alcohol consumption, obesity, and smoking.

Editor’s Note: “If you’re living at a high latitude or in a place with a lot of heavy cloud cover, you can’t make vitamin D most of the year, which results in a higher-than-normal risk of getting pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Garland observed. “People who live in sunny countries near the equator have only one-sixth of the age-adjusted incidence rate of pancreatic cancer as those who live far from it. The importance of sunlight deficiency strongly suggests but does not prove that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to risk of pancreatic cancer.”


* J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2015 Apr 30.

Selenium Reduces Heart Damage Following Cardiac Arrest

An article in Critical Care Medicine describes the finding of a protective effect for selenide, a form of selenium, against reperfusion injury that occurs when blood flow is restored to the heart following cardiac arrest.*

Mark Roth, PhD, and colleagues examined the effects of selenium in mouse models of ischemia reperfusion injury. In one experiment, one of the animals’ coronary arteries was blocked for one hour and blood flow was subsequently restored. Two hours later, Dr. Roth and his associates measured selenium levels in the heart and blood. “We observed that the greater the injury, the greater the loss of selenium in the blood and the greater amount of selenium was found in the heart,” he reported.

The team then restricted blood flow to one of the animals’ hind limbs and observed a significant increase in selenide in the injured limb after blood flow was restored in comparison with the untreated hind limb.

Editor’s Note: “This led us to wonder whether supplementing the body’s naturally occurring selenide with an infusion of selenide might further protect tissues after a heart attack once blood flow is restored,” Dr. Roth added. “We found that administration of selenide after the heart has been deprived of blood flow and before blood flow is restored significantly protects the heart tissue in a mouse model of acute myocardial infarction and reperfusion injury.”


* Crit Care Med. 2015 Apr 6.

Despite Dramatic Increase In Use Of Vitamin D, Toxicity Is Rare

Despite Dramatic Increase In Use Of Vitamin D, Toxicity Is Rare

Numerous studies have shown that many Americans have low vitamin D levels and as a result, vitamin D supplementation has increased dramatically over the past decade. Despite this increase, researchers have determined that toxic vitamin D levels are very rare, according to a report published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceeding.*

Researchers analyzed data collected between 2002 and 2011 from 20,308 patients who took part in the Rochester Epidemiology Project in Minnesota. Of these, only 8% had vitamin D levels greater than 50 ng/mL, and less than 1% had levels over 100 ng/mL. A vitamin D level greater than 50 ng/mL is considered high by many mainstream doctors. Vitamin D levels are determined by a blood test called a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test. A normal level is 20 to 50 ng/mL, and deficiency is anything less than 20 ng/mL, according the Institute of Medicine.

“We found that even in those with high levels of vitamin D over 50 ng/mL, there was not an increased risk of hypercalcemia, or elevated serum calcium, with increasing levels of vitamin D,” says study co-author Thomas D. Thacher, MD, of the Mayo Clinic.

Editor’s Note: Hypercalcemia, or high blood calcium, can occur when there are very high levels of vitamin D in the blood. Too much calcium in the blood can cause weakness, lead to kidney stones, and interfere with the heart and brain, and even be life threatening.


* Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2015 Apr 29.

Two-Week Diet Swap Has Dramatic Impact On Colon Cancer Risk

The results of a study published in Nature Communications found that African American men who switched diets with men in Africa substantially reduced their risk of colon cancer within two weeks, while the African volunteers dramatically increased their colon cancer risk within the same time frame.*

Dr. Stephen O’Keefe of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine had 20 rural South Africans and 20 black men in the US swap diets for 14 days. The African group was fed a high-fat, low-protein, low-fiber Western diet, while the Americans ate a high-fiber diet featuring lots of beans and legumes. Fecal and colon consent samples were taken before the study and at the end of the two-week period.

Two weeks was enough to cause the microbiome, the bacteria that live in the intestinal system, to change its metabolism to adapt to the new diet. The rate of cell turnover in the intestinal lining, levels of fiber fermentation, bacterial metabolic activity, and inflammation were all reflected in the new eating patterns of those eating the Western-style diet, indicating increased colon cancer risk. Those eating the African high-fiber diet saw a reversal of colon cancer risk markers.

“These findings are really very good news,” O’Keefe said. “In just two weeks, a change from a Westernized composition of a traditional African high-fiber, low-fat diet reduced biomarkers of cancer risk, indicating it’s never too late to modify risk of colon cancer.”

Editor’s Note: Colon or colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the world, with nearly 1.4 million new cases diagnosed in 2012. It is the fourth most common cause of cancer death, accounting for over 600,000 deaths a year.


* Nature Communications . 2015 April 29.

Omega-3 Essential For Brain Development

Omega-3 Essential For Brain Development

The Journal of Neuroscience reported the discovery of researchers at the University of California Irvine of an important role for the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in fetal brain development.*

Susan Cohen-Cory and colleagues studied DHA’s effect in the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis. Mother frogs were given diets containing adequate or deficient amounts of DHA, and their embryos were examined every 10 weeks for up to 60 weeks. The mothers were then given a diet supplemented with fish oil, which is a good source of omega-3.

After 40 weeks on a DHA-deficient diet, egg cells and tadpoles had reduced DHA levels and at 60 weeks, brain DHA was lowered by 57%. Deficient frogs were found to have poorly developed optic neurons and a reduction in synapses, which facilitate the transmission of impulses from one neuron to another.

Editor’s Note: “Additionally, when we changed the diets of DHA-deficient mothers to include a proper level of this dietary fatty acid, neuronal and synaptic growth flourished and returned to normal in the following generation of tadpoles,” Dr. Cohen-Cory reported.


* J Neurosci. 2015 Apr 15;35(15):6079-92.

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