Life Extension Magazine®

Board of processed meat that is being linked to breast cancer

In The News: April 2018

Processed meat linked to breast cancer; lithium may improve fetal alcohol syndrome; calcium and vitamin D lower risk of early menopause; and latest protocol in Disease Prevention and Treatment book.

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

Processed Meat Linked to Breast Cancer

A new study has found an increased risk of breast cancer for women who consume processed meat.*

Processed meat is any meat which is modified to extend shelf life, change the color and appearance and/or improve taste.

The research, which was led by the director of the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, Professor Jill Pell, found the link was mainly rooted in the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.

Data for the study was based on 262,195 women from the UK Biobank who were recruited from the general public, aged 40 to 69.

Information on the subjects’ meat consumption was collected from 2007 to 2010 and combined with a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies based on rigorous criteria.

Findings showed that the subjects who ate processed meat had a higher risk of breast cancer, independent of other factors such as lifestyle, obesity, diet, and sociodemographics.

Some carcinogens in processed meat that have long been concerning are preservatives such as sodium nitrite. While high doses of vitamin C may help neutralize these mutagens, it’s better to avoid them.

What you need to know

Processed Meat Linked to Breast Cancer; Lithium Shows Potential for Treating Fetal Alcohol Syndrome; Calcium and Vitamin D May Fight Early Menopause; and a Just-Published Protocol in the Disease Prevention and Treatment Book: Sjögren’s Syndrome.

Editor’s Note: These study results add to previous research that found a link between processed meats and cancer, as well as research showing a higher mortality risk in breast cancer survivors who consume grilled meat.


*Eur J Cancer. 2017 Dec 21;90:73-82.

Lithium Shows Potential for Treating Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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The journal Neuroscience reported that a dose of lithium blocked some of the effects of alcohol, including disordered sleep, in a mouse model of fetal alcohol syndrome.*

While lithium has been used for decades in the treatment of bipolar disorder, it has been recently associated with other benefits, including memory enhancement.

The research team administered ethanol or saline to a group of seven-day-old mice and gave half of them an injection of lithium chloride. In comparison with the controls, mice that received ethanol developed hyperactivity, cognitive impairment and reduced slow-wave sleep as adults, however, these effects were reduced by cotreatment with lithium.

Lithium additionally prevented the development of changes in specific brain cells experienced by ethanol-treated mice.

The researchers plan to investigate whether lithium can block other forms of neurological damage, such as results from stroke and trauma.

Editor’s Note: “Developmental ethanol exposure is a well-known cause of lifelong cognitive deficits, behavioral hyperactivity, emotional dysregulation, and more,” write authors M. Lewin and colleagues. “In healthy adults, sleep is thought to have a critical involvement in each of these processes. Our previous work has demonstrated that some aspects of cognitive impairment in adult mice exposed at postnatal day seven to ethanol correlate with slow-wave sleep fragmentation.”


*Neurosci. 2018 Jan 15;269-277.

Calcium and Vitamin D May Fight Early Menopause

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An article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports a lower risk of early menopause among women who consumed higher amounts of calcium and vitamin D.*

Premature menopause, defined as the cessation of ovarian function prior to the age of 45, affects approximately 10% of women.

The investigation included 116,430 women between the ages of 25 and 42. Questionnaires completed by the participants at enrollment and every two years thereafter provided information concerning medical conditions. Dietary information was collected five times during the course of the 20-year study.

Early menopause was experienced by 2,041 subjects over follow-up. Among women whose calcium was categorized as high, the risk of early menopause was 13% less than among those whose intake was low. Having a higher intake of vitamin D was associated with a 17% reduction in risk.

Editor’s Note: “The large size of this study allowed us to consider a variety of potential correlates of a healthy lifestyle that might explain our findings. However, adjusting for these factors made almost no difference in our estimates,” remarked the study authors. “In addition to placing women at higher risk of adverse future health outcomes, early menopause is also problematic as women are increasingly delaying childbearing into their later reproductive years. As such, it is important to identify modifiable risk factors for early menopause, such as diet.”


*Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jun;105(6):1493-1501.

Just-Published Protocol in the Disease Prevention and Treatment Book

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The scientists and writers at Life Extension® continuously update the online Disease Prevention and Treatment protocol chapters based on the latest research. A recent update is briefly summarized here. Complete versions of these chapters with references are available online at:

Sjögren Syndrome

Chronic dry eyes and dry mouth can be more than minor annoyances—they may be symptoms of Sjögren syndrome, a systemic autoimmune disease. Although many factors likely contribute to its development, studies have found strong links between Sjögren syndrome and cytomegalovirus (CMV)—a common virus to which about half of Americans have been exposed.

Because there is currently no cure for Sjögren syndrome, treatment options focus primarily on symptom relief with artificial tears and saliva substitutes. Unfortunately, more aggressive treatments such as immunosuppressants are often associated with unpleasant side effects.

Fortunately, researchers are uncovering promising new therapies, such as the drug belimumab, which modulates the excessive immune response that underlies Sjögren syndrome. Also, several integrative interventions such as omega-3 fatty acids, maqui-berry extract, and white peony-extract have been shown to improve symptoms and ease inflammation and autoimmunity.

Life Extension’s updated Sjögren syndrome protocol summarizes the latest research and emerging treatment options for this troublesome condition.