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Two men running after supplementing with selenium

In The News: November 2018

New evidence for Mediterranean diet; selenium reduces mortality; coffee inhibits arrhythmia; and vitamins lower pancreatic cancer risk.

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

Vitamin Supplements Associated with Lower Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

A meta-analysis found an association between higher vitamin intake and a lower risk of cancer of the pancreas.*

Ying Liu and colleagues selected 25 studies that included 1,214,995 subjects for their analysis. Studies included case-control investigations, randomized controlled trials, cohort studies, prospective studies and retrospective studies that provided data on the intake of vitamin A, B, C, D, or E. Pancreatic cancer cases totaled 8,740.

Subjects with the highest vitamin intake in the prospective studies had a 10% lower adjusted risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to those among the lowest intake group. In retrospective studies, the risk was 21% lower for those whose vitamin intake was highest.

In a dose-response meta-analysis, intake of 10 mcg or more of vitamin B12 lowered the incidence of pancreatic cancer by 27%. For vitamin D, the risk was lowered by 25%.

Editor’s Note: In their discussion, the authors list a number of mechanisms to explain the effects of vitamins on pancreatic cancer cells. As examples, vitamin E has been shown to induce cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis (programmed cell death) in human pancreatic cancer cells, and vitamin B1 has been shown to increase caspase-3 activity (involved in apoptosis) and decrease pancreatic cell proliferation.


*Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Mar;97(13):e0114.

What you need to know

Meta-analysis shows an association with vitamin supplements and a lower risk of pancreatic cancer; High levels of selenium linked to lower mortality risk; Surprising discovery about coffee and heart health; Increasing evidence of the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet.

Selenium Linked to Lower Mortality Risk

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Research published in March 2018 revealed a lower risk of mortality over a ten-year period among older men and women who had higher serum levels of the mineral selenium.*

The investigation included 347 participants in “Aging and Longevity in the Sirente” (ilSIRENTE), a prospective cohort study that involved men and women aged 80 years and older who resided in a mountain community in Italy. Blood samples collected at enrollment were analyzed for factors that included serum selenium, which was categorized as low or high.

Subjects were followed for 10 years, during which 248 deaths occurred.

Having a high level of selenium was associated with a 29% lower adjusted risk of death from all causes over the ten-year follow-up period compared with lower levels.

Editor’s Note: Greater selenium levels were associated with lower levels of interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein, which are markers of inflammation.


* J Nutr Health Aging. 2018;22(5):608-612.

Coffee May Help Prevent Arrhythmia

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Contrary to common belief, coffee does not increase abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia) but helps prevent them, according to a review in the April 2018 issue of Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Clinical Electrophysiology.*

One cup of coffee contains an average 95 mg of caffeine. Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a compound that can facilitate the type of arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation.

Population-based studies have documented an association between a reduction in atrial fibrillation and greater caffeine ingestion.

A meta-analysis that included 228,465 subjects found a relationship between drinking coffee and lower atrial fibrillation occurrence.

While regular coffee drinkers had a 6% average reduction in atrial fibrillation, pooled, adjusted results from studies found a decrease of 11% for low doses and 16% for high doses of caffeine.

Editor’s Note: Researchers Peter Kistler and colleagues determined that caffeine also has no effect on ventricular arrhythmias. Doses of up to 500 mg per day have not been associated with ventricular arrhythmia rate or severity. Only at 9-10 cups per day has coffee been associated with an increase in risk.


*JACC: Clin Electrophysiol. 2018 Apr;4(4):425-432.

More Evidence for Mediterranean Diet Benefits

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A recent series of journal articles reveals new associations between a Mediterranean diet and healthy aging outcomes.*

In a review by Luigi Fontana and colleagues, a number of potential health-modifying effects induced by the Mediterranean diet were considered, including: lipid reduction, protection against inflammation and oxidative stress, and modification of cancer-promoting growth factors.

Other articles documented the benefit of the diet on physical function, the effects of adding a CoQ10 supplement to the diet, the interaction between genetic variants and the diet on inflammation and aging, and the favorable role of adherence to the Mediterranean diet at midlife on health maintenance during aging.

Editor’s Note: The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of whole grains, legumes, fresh vegetables, fruit, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, moderate consumption of fish, and the inclusion of small amounts of dairy products and wine.


J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018 Mar 2;73(3):315-317.