Life Extension Magazine®
Swimmer supplementing with tart cherry for boosted athletic performance

In The News: November 2016

Tart cherry boosts athletic performance; nicotinamide riboside rejuvenates stem cells; aspirin prevents stroke; testosterone therapy not linked to prostate cancer; calcium inhibits colorectal cancer; inflammation real cause of GERD; phenotypes affect prediabetics’ risks; and software identifies protein mutations.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on March 2021.

Tart Cherry Supplementation Benefits Athletic Performance

A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that short-term supplementation with powdered cherries boosted athletic performance in test subjects.*

Researchers were curious to determine whether use of a tart cherry supplement prior to and following strenuous endurance exercise would affect markers of oxidative stress, muscle damage, inflammation, and muscle soreness.

In a double-blind study, eighteen men and nine women, all endurance-trained runners or triathletes, were randomly assigned to ingest capsules containing 480 mg of either a placebo or the powdered cherries and then asked to complete a half-marathon run. Fasting blood samples and quadriceps muscle-soreness ratings were taken before the run and later at one, 24 and 48 hours post-run. Subjects who took the cherry powder averaged 13% faster half-marathon finish times compared to the placebo group. They also had inflammatory markers that were 47% lower. Additionally, the cherry group’s post-run muscle pain faded faster compared to the placebo group.

Editor’s Note: In addition, the study’s results revealed that aerobically trained individuals using supplementation of powdered tart cherries prior to an endurance challenge had reduced immune and inflammatory stress, attenuated markers of muscle catabolism, better maintained redox balance, and increased performance.


*J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016 May 26.

Nicotinamide Riboside Shows Promise in Regenerative Medicine

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An article published in the journal Science reveals more positive findings for nicotinamide riboside, a natural compound that is a precursor of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), found in all living cells.*

A team from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, along with researchers from Zurich, Canada and Brazil, found that treatment with nicotinamide riboside rejuvenated muscle stem cells in aged mice and prevented muscle stem cell senescence in a mouse model of muscular dystrophy. They also determined that the compound delayed the senescence of neural and melanocyte stem cells in addition to increasing lifespan in mice.

The team identified the molecular chain that regulates the function of mitochondria (the cells’ energy-producing organelles) and how mitochondria change during aging. “We were able to show for the first time that their ability to function properly was important for stem cells,” announced lead researcher Johan Auwerx.

Editor’s Note: “We gave nicotinamide riboside to two-year-old mice, which is an advanced age for them,” explained first author and PhD student Hongbo Zhang. “This substance, which is close to vitamin B3, is a precursor of NAD+, a molecule that plays a key role in mitochondrial activity. And our results are extremely promising: muscular regeneration is much better in mice that received nicotinamide riboside, and they lived longer than the mice that didn’t get it.”


* Science. 2016 Apr 28.

Treatment of TIA with Aspirin Could Help Prevent Stroke

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An article in The Lancet suggests that the use of aspirin by individuals experiencing transient ischemic attack (TIA) could reduce the risk of a major stroke during the days following the event.*

“The risk of a major stroke is very high immediately after a TIA or a minor stroke, but only for a few days,” explained researcher Peter Rothwell from Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK. He added, “We showed previously…that urgent medical treatment with a ‘cocktail’ of different drugs could reduce the one-week risk of stroke from about 10% to about 2%, but we didn’t know which component of the ‘cocktail’ was most important.”

It was discovered that aspirin’s benefit primarily occurred during the weeks following a TIA and that it was associated with a 70% to 80% reduction in the early risk of fatal or disabling stroke in contrast with the 15% reduction in long term stroke risk uncovered by previous research.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Rothwell elaborated, “Our findings confirm the effectiveness of urgent treatment after TIA and minor stroke, and show that aspirin is the most important component.”


*The Lancet. 2016 May 18.

Testosterone Treatment Does Not Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

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The risk of prostate cancer is not higher for men who have received testosterone replacement therapy compared to those who have not, according to a study that analyzed Swedish medical data on over a quarter of a million patients. The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in San Diego, California.*

The study, conducted by New York University Langone Medical Center, was aimed at helping settle the debate over the supposed link between testosterone replacement therapy and prostate cancer risk. Researchers found that not only was there no increase in risk, but men who received testosterone replacement therapy for more than a year had a 50% lower chance of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer in comparison with their non-treated counterparts.

Up to now, there had been concern that testosterone replacement therapy might be linked to prostate cancer, because the disease is often treated with drugs that radically lower levels of male sex hormones. Life Extension® refuted this false notion 19 years ago by pointing out numerous studies showing higher levels of testosterone are NOT associated with increased prostate cancer risk.

Editor’s Note: Lead investigator Stacy Loeb, assistant professor of urology and population health at New York University and a specialist in prostate cancer, said, “Based on our findings, physicians should still be watching for prostate cancer risk factors—such as being over the age of 40, having African American ancestry, or having a family history of the disease—in men taking testosterone therapy, but should not hesitate to prescribe it to appropriate patients for fear of increasing prostate risk.”


*American Urological Association in San Diego, California, May 6-10, 2016.

Lack of Vitamin D Prevalent among Type I Diabetic Youths

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A recent article appearing in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice revealed a high risk of deficient vitamin D levels in type I diabetic adolescents and children.*

Terri Lipman, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, and colleagues at the School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, evaluated the 25-hydroxyvitamin D and glucose levels of 197 diabetic children and adolescents who were seen by the Diabetes Center for Children at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Levels of hemoglobin A1c (a measure of diabetes control), and other factors were ascertained from patient records.

Deficient vitamin D levels of less than 20 ng/mL were present in 40.6% of the diabetic subjects and 49.2% had insufficient levels ranging from 20 ng/mL to 30 ng/mL. Only 10.2% had levels higher than 30 ng/mL.

Editor’s Note: According to the authors, the data suggest the need for monitoring of vitamin D levels in all young type I diabetics.


*Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2016 Mar 12.

Meta-Analysis Finds Calcium Protects Against Adenoma

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The World Journal of Gastroenterology published the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials that indicate a protective effect for calcium supplementation against the risk of colorectal adenoma, a precursor of colorectal cancer.*

European researchers from Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Milan, Italy, selected four trials that compared the effects of 1,200 mg to 2,000 mg of elemental calcium per day to a placebo against the risk of colorectal adenoma during up to 60 months of treatment and follow-up. Subjects included men and women with resected colorectal cancer or those who had colorectal adenomas surgically removed prior to enrollment. Colonoscopic examinations conducted over the follow-up periods ascertained colorectal adenoma recurrence.

All of the trials reported a lower incidence of colorectal adenomas in the calcium group. The meta-analysis determined that subjects who received calcium experienced a 10% to 15% lower risk of adenoma recurrence compared with those who received the placebo.

Editor’s Note: The authors note that calcium may protect against colorectal neoplasia by binding bile and fatty acids, which reduces their carcinogenic effects on colon epithelial cells. Additionally, the mineral has a direct antiproliferative effect on cells and promotes cellular differentiation and apoptosis (programmed cell death). The dose used, however, is higher than what most people should take in supplement form. For bone health, most women should take about 700 mg of elemental calcium a day, whereas men should take about 500 mg daily.


*World J Gastroenterol. 2016 May 14.

Inflammation is Likely Culprit in GERD-Related Esophagitis

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association implicates an inflammatory reaction triggered by the presence of stomach acid in the esophagus, rather than burns caused by the acid itself, as the damaging factor in patients with gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD).*

The study included 12 patients being treated for GERD with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) who were asked to discontinue their medication. Participants underwent esophageal biopsies at the beginning of the study and one and two weeks after stopping the drugs.

At one and two weeks, biopsies showed signs of T-lymphocyte-predominant inflammation. All subjects had evidence of esophageal acid exposure and esophagitis at two weeks, which is consistent with the time needed for damage caused by inflammation to develop. “These findings suggest that the pathogenesis of reflux esophagitis may be cytokine-mediated rather than the result of chemical injury,” the authors conclude.

Editor’s Note: Co-senior author Dr. Rhonda Souza from Veterans Affairs North Texas Health Care System, University of Texas, predicted that “Someday we might treat GERD with medications that target the cytokines or inflammatory cells that really cause the damage to the esophagus.”


*JAMA. 2016 May 17.

Phenotypes Help Assess Cardiometabolic Risk in Prediabetes Patients

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Prediabetes is associated with increased risk of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and dementia, but that risk varies widely among individuals. Now, a new study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology has found a method to more accurately assess that risk.*

Scientists from the German Center for Diabetes analyzed data from a study involving 1,003 subjects and found that determining the status in patients of four major phenotypes—fatty liver, visceral obesity, the action of insulin and the production of insulin—can help explain the variability of risk in individuals as well as enhance the prediction and prevention of their cardiometabolic risk.

Scientists studied the prevalence of the four at-risk phenotypes in people with prediabetes who were in different body mass index categories. They found that insulin secretion failure is the biggest at-risk phenotype for people of normal weight, while fatty liver and visceral obesity were strongly associated with overweight and obese prediabetes patients.

Editor’s Note: “If proven to be effective, this strategy could be included in guidelines about the prevention and treatment of diabetes and associated diseases,” said first author of the article Norbert Stefan. A co-author, Hans Häring, adds, “The application of precise phenotyping strategies in clinical trials will also help to improve understanding of the pathophysiology of cardiometabolic diseases.”


* Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2016 May 13.

Vitamin D Reduces Body Fat in Toddlers

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A new study in the journal Pediatric Obesity shows that vitamin D given to babies seems to lead to less body fat and more muscle mass when they become toddlers.*

This is the first time a connection has been found between healthy vitamin D levels in a baby’s first year and development of muscle mass. Researchers made the discovery when they followed up on a 2013 study in which 132 babies in Montreal, Canada, were given vitamin D3 in varying dosages. The 2013 study was only designed to confirm the importance of vitamin D for bone density, but the follow-up revealed that infants with vitamin D stores higher than recommended by the Canadian Paediatric Society averaged about 450 grams less body fat at age 3.

Both studies agree that a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU a day in an infant’s first year aids in the growth of strong bones.

Editor’s Note: “We were very intrigued by the higher lean mass, the possibility that vitamin D can help infants to not only grow healthy skeletons but also healthy amounts of muscle and less fat,” said Hope Weller, one of the authors of the study and director of the Mary Emily Clinical Nutrition Research Unit at McGill University.


*Pediatr Obes. 2016 Feb.

Healthy Lifestyle Could Prevent Half of Cancer Deaths

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An estimated tens of thousands of US cancer deaths could be prevented through the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.*

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School analyzed data from 89,571 Caucasian women and 46,399 Caucasian men who were enrolled in two ongoing cohorts. 16,531 of the women and 11,731 of the men maintained patterns of healthy lifestyles, including no current smoking, moderate or no alcohol consumption, a BMI between 18.5 and 27.5, and at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise weekly. After comparing cancer rates between the healthy-lifestyle group and the remaining subjects, researchers concluded that 20% to 40% of common cancer cases and about half of deaths could be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

The authors say that more study is needed to see if their findings hold true among other ethnic groups.

Editor’s Note: The authors of the study concluded, “These findings reinforce the predominate importance of lifestyle factors in determining cancer risk. Therefore, primary prevention should remain a priority for cancer control.”


*JAMA Oncol. 2016 May 19.

Limitless Potential Found in New Cancer-Predicting Software

In a recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the newly invented technology called Wregex 2.0 was implemented to analyze mutations within proteins.* The new software is capable of scanning and analyzing up to 40,000 proteins in just one minute.

According to the study, the technology has demonstrated itself capable of identifying mutations that might be associated with or induce the development of many diseases, including cancer. Further, the technology is capable of giving researchers data about the specific mutations of proteins, which could yield a blueprint of the manner in which a cancer may progress.

Potentially, this software and the information it provides may prove useful in innumerable ways. Among other possible uses, it could, if explored further, be used to guide doctors in making optimal treatment decisions about a multitude of diseases. And it would do so with extreme reliability, given the immense amount of data these analytics could provide.

Editor’s Note: Currently, the software uses only the mutations already identified in the “Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer” list. But the study reveals that this technology has the potential to operate in conjunction with a database of mutations several orders of magnitude larger.

—Chase R. Falcon


*Sci Rep. 2016 May 12.