Life Extension Magazine®

Younger couple at park after taking blood test

In The News: June 2016

C-reactive protein increases stroke risk; B vitamin reduces pancreatic cancer risk; baldness linked to prostate cancer; magnesium inhibits diabetes; fish oil lowers homocysteine; magnesium inhibits sudden cardiac death; carnitine helps prevent autism; fish oil reduces depression.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Life Extension.

Blood Test Predicts Second Stroke Risk

Blood Test Predicts Second Stroke Risk

Scientists at the University of Virginia have linked high levels of C-reactive protein with an increased risk of ischemic stroke.*

C-reactive protein is produced in the liver in response to inflammation, and is currently measured to assess a person’s risk of developing coronary artery disease. Life Extension® first drew a correlation between high C-reactive protein and stroke in the early 2000s.

Ischemic strokes, which are responsible for 85% of all stroke cases, result from blockages that prevent blood flow to the brain. Stephen Williams, PhD, and colleagues wanted to determine how genes affect the levels of biomarkers such as C-reactive protein in blood. They discovered that not only did elevated C-reactive protein levels suggest an increased stroke risk, they identified gene variations that induce those risks.

We have the genetics influencing C-reactive protein levels, which then increases the risk of having a recurrent stroke,” said Williams. “Then we went back and said alright, can we predict the increased risk purely based on the genetics, which we were able to do.

“There is this shared genetic susceptibility not only for increased C-reactive protein but for increased risk for stroke. We could estimate what is called a hazard ratio—basically the increased risk for having or not having a second stroke—based on the genetics.”

Editor’s Note: Supplementing with an omega-3 product that includes krill and astaxanthin as well as an omega-7 product has been shown to decrease C-reactive protein by 44%.


* Neurology. 2016 Jan 26;86(4):351-9.

Increased B Vitamin Intake Associated with Lower Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Pancreatic cancer kills 40,000 Americans each year. Life Extension Foundation is funding a clinical trial at the City of Hope Hospital in Southern California with the objective of improving survival in advanced pancreatic cancer patients.

There is an urgent need for people to reduce risk factors involved in pancreatic carcinogenesis. Encouraging news has arrived in a study showing markedly lower pancreatic cancer rates in those with higher intakes of common dietary supplements.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have uncovered an association between an increase in the intake of vitamin B6 and choline and a lower risk of cancer of the pancreas. The findings were reported in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.*

J. Huang and colleagues utilized data from the Singapore Chinese Health database that enrolled 63,257 men and women between 1993 and 1998. Dietary questionnaire responses provided information on the intake of individual nutrients, which include vitamins B6, choline, and other nutrients. Over an average of 16.3 years of follow-up, 271 pancreatic cancer cases were identified.

Among subjects whose intake of vitamin B6 was among the top 20% of participants, there was a 48% lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer in comparison with those whose intake was among the lowest 20%. For those whose choline intake was highest, the risk of pancreatic cancer was 33% lower.

Editor’s Note: As possible cancer-protective mechanisms for vitamin B6, the authors cite its role as a co-factor for enzymes involved in DNA synthesis and methylation pathways of one-carbon metabolism, as well as an ability to protect DNA from oxidative damage. In regard to choline, its role as a methyl donor may also help protect against pancreatic carcinogenesis.


* Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev. 2015 Dec 28.

Blueberries Show Promise for Cognitive Impairment

Blueberries Show Promise for Cognitive Impairment

The 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society was the site of a presentation concerning improved cognitive function in association with blueberry consumption among individuals with mild cognitive impairment.*

Robert Krikorian, PhD, presented the results of two studies concerning the effects of blueberries in older adults. In the first study, 47 participants with mild cognitive impairment were given the freeze-dried powder equivalent of a cup of fresh blueberries or a placebo daily for 16 weeks. “There was improvement in cognitive performance and brain function in those who had the blueberry powder compared with those who took the placebo,” Dr. Krikorian reported.

In the second study, 94 participants with subjective memory complaints received blueberry powder, fish oil, fish oil plus blueberry powder, or a placebo. While improvement in cognition occurred in association with blueberry or fish oil, Dr. Krikorian noted that “the results were not as robust as with the first study.”

Editor’s Note: Dr. Krikorian suggested that the second study’s smaller effects could be attributable to less severe symptoms among its subjects compared to those in the first study. Blueberries may be more effective for those diagnosed with cognitive impairment rather than those with minor memory complaints.


* National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. March 13-17, 2016.

Baldness Linked to Prostate Cancer Death

A new study published in American Journal of Epidemiology found that male pattern baldness is linked not only to a higher risk of developing prostate cancer but also with a higher risk of prostate cancer death.1

Researchers analyzed data on 4,316 men aged 25 to 74 years old who had not been diagnosed with cancer before the study started. To date, there have been 3,284 deaths, 107 from prostate cancer.

Researchers found the risk for death from prostate cancer was 56% higher in men with any baldness than in those with no baldness. In men with moderate balding, the risk was 83% higher.

Although more research is needed, testosterone may be the link between the two. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a male hormone produced from testosterone by an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. Dihydrotestosterone is linked with both the growth of prostate cells and baldness in older men.

Please note that higher testosterone itself has not been shown to increase prostate cancer risk. In fact, men with lower levels of testosterone have greater risks of aggressive prostate malignancies.2-5 From what is known today, aging men should seek to reduce their levels of dihydrotestosterone while maintaining their testosterone in youthful ranges.

Two medications that reduce dihydrotestosterone levels, Proscar® (finasteride) and Avodart® (dutasteride), have been shown in studies to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and reduce prostate gland volume by 17% to 25% in a relatively short period of time.

Editor’s Note: Baldness is not a certain risk factor for prostate cancer, says researcher Michael Cook, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, despite the findings. But, he adds: “It is conceivable that, in the future, patterns and degree of male baldness may play a small role in estimating risk of prostate cancer.”


1. Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Feb 1. 2. Korean J Urol. 2012;53:9-13. 3. BJU Int. 2012;110:E54-6. 4. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014:15(22):9841-6. 5. J Urol. 2015 Feb;193:403-14.

Urgent Need to Test Blood of Younger People

Urgent Need to Test Blood of Younger People

Scientific studies validate the urgent need for everyone to have their blood tested for cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, calcium, and other cardiac risk factors no later than age 18.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at a large group whose blood was initially tested between ages 18 to 30.*
Seven additional blood tests were done on each person over a 20-year period. The results showed that those with the highest LDL (over 160 mg/dL) were 5.6 times more likely to have calcium buildup in their coronary arteries by age 45.

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) transports cholesterol from the liver throughout the vascular system. In the presence of excess LDL, too much cholesterol saturates the blood and contributes to arterial occlusion.

Editor’s Note: This study showed that over a 20-year period, those with even moderately elevated LDL (100-129 mg/dL) were 2.4 times more likely to have coronary calcification.


*Annals Inter Med. 2010 Aug 3;153(3);137-46.

Magnesium Linked with Reduced Diabetes Risk

Magnesium Linked with Reduced Diabetes Risk

The results of a meta-analysis published in Biomedical and Environmental Sciences add more evidence in support of a relationship between higher magnesium intake and a lower risk of developing type II diabetes.*

Researchers at China’s Nantong University selected 15 articles that reported the results of 19 prospective studies examining the effect of dietary or dietary plus supplemental magnesium on type II diabetes incidence among a total of 539,735 men and women. Type II diabetes developed in 25,252 subjects over follow-up periods that ranged from four to 20 years.

When highest versus lowest magnesium intake for each study was compared, high intake was associated with a 23% lower diabetes risk. A 100 mg per day increase in the mineral was associated with an average 16% risk reduction.

Editor’s Note: Authors Tian Xu and colleagues note that intervention trials have shown that magnesium supplementation improved insulin sensitivity and reduced insulin resistance and plasma fasting glucose levels in diabetics as well as nondiabetics.


* Biomed Environ Sci. 2015 Jul;28(7): 527-34.

Fish Oil and Vitamin B12 Reduce Plasma Homocysteine

Fish Oil and Vitamin B12 Reduce Plasma Homocysteine

The September 2015 issue of Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the finding of researchers at Zhejiang University in China of a reduction in plasma homocysteine levels following supplementation with vitamin B12 and/or fish oil.*

Thirty men and women were randomly assigned to receive 1,000 micrograms vitamin B12, 2 grams fish oil, or 2 grams fish oil plus 1,000 micrograms vitamin B12. Plasma vitamin B12, lipids, ferritin (a biomarker of iron status), C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and other factors were measured before treatment and after four and eight weeks of supplementation.

Among those who received fish oil alone or fish oil plus vitamin B12, triglycerides, C-reactive protein and ferritin significantly decreased after four and eight weeks. Homocysteine was lowered by 22% in the vitamin B12 group, 19% in the fish oil group, and 39% among those who received both supplements for eight weeks.

Editor’s Note: Homocysteine is an amino acid made from methionine that inflicts damage to the inner arterial lining (endothelium) and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and other conditions.


*Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2015;24(3):403-11.

Higher Serum Magnesium Levels Linked with Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Sudden Cardiac Death

Higher Serum Magnesium Levels Linked with Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Sudden Cardiac Death

A study reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association uncovered an association between higher magnesium levels and a decreased risk of coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death over a median follow-up of 8.7 years.*

For their research, Brenda Kieboom, MD, and colleagues at Erasmus MC–University Medical Center in The Netherlands evaluated data from 9,820 participants in the Rotterdam Study of men and women aged 55 and older. Among 2,303 deaths over follow-up, 780 were attributed to cardiovascular disease, among which 431 were classified as coronary heart disease deaths, including 187 sudden cardiac deaths.

For subjects whose serum magnesium was categorized as low, there was a 36% higher risk of coronary heart disease mortality and a 54% greater risk of sudden cardiac death in comparison with those who had levels in the middle range.

Editor’s Note: “The results from this and previous studies may provide a rationale to design intervention studies to analyze whether magnesium supplementation could prove to be effective in lowering the burden of coronary heart disease mortality and sudden cardiac death,” the authors said.


* J Am Heart Assoc. 2016 Jan 22.

Research Suggests Prenatal Carnitine Supplementation Could Help Prevent Some Cases of Autism

Research Suggests Prenatal Carnitine Supplementation Could Help Prevent Some Cases of Autism

An article in Cell Reports reveals the finding of a potential role for carnitine as a prenatal supplement to protect against autism in unborn children.*

Carnitine, found in meat and other foods, is also manufactured in the body from the amino acid lysine. Research has shown that inherited mutations in a gene (TMLHE) required for carnitine synthesis are associated with development of autism spectrum disorders, yet the mechanism supporting the relationship had not been established.

By utilizing technology that allows tracking of individual neural stem cells in a developing brain, Zhigang Xie, PhD, and colleagues observed that cells that fail to produce carnitine are depleted. However, this phenomenon is prevented when the neural stem cells are supplied with carnitine.

“Here we have indications, at least for some types of autism risk, that a dietary carnitine prevention method might be effective,” Dr. Xie stated.

Editor’s Note: “We suggest that genetic screening of prospective parents for TMLHE mutations, coupled with inclusion of carnitine as a dietary supplement upon initial diagnosis of pregnancy, promises mental health benefits for newborns otherwise at significant risk for developmental brain disorders,” the authors conclude.

*Cell Reports. 2016 Jan 28.

Vitamin D3 Lowers Inflammatory T Cells in Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Results from a study reported in the journal Neurology suggest a benefit for treatment with high-dose vitamin D for people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.*

Peter A. Calabresi, MD, and colleagues tested the effects of vitamin D supplementation in a study involving 40 relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients. Participants were treated for six months with 10,400 IU or 800 IU vitamin D. Serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D were measured at the beginning of the study and at three and six months.

Subjects who received the higher dose of vitamin D experienced an average 34.9 ng/mL increase in serum vitamin D by the end of the study, while levels increased by just 6.9 ng/mL in the low-dose group. Among those who received the higher dose, the proportion of
pro-inflammatory interleukin 17 (IL-17) producing cells decreased, suggesting a reduction in disease severity.

Editor’s Note: “These results are exciting, as vitamin D has the potential to be an inexpensive, safe, and convenient treatment for people with MS,” stated Dr. Calabresi, the director of the Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis Center. “We hope that these changes in inflammatory T cell responses translate to a reduced severity of disease. Other clinical trials are underway to determine if that is the case.”


*Neurology. 2015 Dec 30.

Meta-Analysis Adds Evidence to Antidepressant Effect of Omega-3

Meta-Analysis Adds Evidence to Antidepressant Effect of Omega-3

An article reported in Translational Psychiatry adds more evidence to the association between higher omega-3 fatty acid intake and a lower risk of major depressive disorder (MDD).*

Roel J. T. Mocking and colleagues selected 13 trials that included 1,233 subjects for their analysis. Studies were restricted to randomized placebo-controlled trials of adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder, excluding major depressive disorder secondary to other neuropsychiatric disorders, and perinatal and perimenopausal major depressive disorder.

Compared to placebo, omega-3 fatty acid intake was associated with beneficial effects, particularly among participants who were using antidepressant drugs or who received higher doses of the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The authors suggest that omega-3’s antidepressant effect is the result of anti-inflammatory characteristics of EPA’s metabolic byproducts. “Future precision/personalized medicine trials should establish whether possible interactions between EPA and antidepressants could provide targets to improve antidepressant response and its prediction,” the authors conclude.

Editor’s Note: “Omega-3 supplements may be specifically effective in the form of EPA in depressed patients using antidepressants,” stated lead author Dr. Mocking. “This could be a next step to personalizing the treatment for depression and other disorders.”


*Translat Psychiatry. 2016 Mar 15.