Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Oct 2019

In the News

Hypertension tied to cognitive impairment; fish oil in pregnancy inhibits fatty liver in adult children; more consistent CT-radiation doses needed; omega-3 improves dry eye symptoms.

Brain Changes in Hypertensive Patients Linked to Mild Cognitive Impairment

A study published in the journal Hypertension has further confirmed the impact of hypertension on cognition.*

Researchers followed 345 individuals with high blood pressure for almost four years. They determined cognitive function using the Dementia Rating Scale, and they used MRIs to measure changes in the brain.

Study subjects who experienced marked progression in periventricular white matter hyperintensities had a six-fold higher incidence of mild cognitive impairment compared to individuals without this progression. They also experienced a decrease in global cognition.

Numerous studies link hypertension to accelerated brain aging. This study identified specific damage inflicted to the brains of people with high blood pressure over a relatively short time period (less than 4 years).

Editor’s Note: Healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg, and Life Extension® recommends an optimal target of 115/75 mmHg. Maintaining an optimal blood pressure may lower the progression of cerebral white matter lesions and result in a lower incidence of mild cognitive impairment.

*Hypertension. 2019;73:342–349.

Protective Effect of Fish Oil Supplementation During Pregnancy

pregnant woman looking at belly

Studies have shown that a mother’s overeating during pregnancy increases the child’s susceptibility, once they reach adulthood, to chronic diseases such as obesity, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.*

Researchers wanted to find out if fish oil supplementation during pregnancy could prevent fatty liver in the offspring, which occurs when too much fat is stored in the liver cells.

For the study, rats were fed a cafeteria diet, which provided them with high-fat, high-salt, and low-fiber foods such as cookies, chips, and processed meat. This diet creates a more accurate model of human metabolic syndrome than the traditional high-fat diet used in models of diet-induced obesity.

Some rats received fish oil supplementation during the first half of pregnancy, some received it throughout pregnancy and lactation, and some got no fish oil at all.

The offspring of the rats fed the cafeteria diet without fish oil experienced increases in numerous markers that are indicative of fatty liver. However, these differences disappeared in rats whose mothers were supplemented with fish oil.

This study showed that supplementing with fish oil either during the first half of pregnancy, or throughout pregnancy and lactation, prevented fatty liver in adult male offspring in rats consuming highly palatable, energy-dense foods that are prevalent in Western society.

Editor’s Note: Previous studies had shown that fish oil supplementation during pregnancy could reduce the risk of adult disease in the offspring, but this is the first study to show the protective effect of supplementation during just the first half of pregnancy.

* Food Chem Toxicol. 2019 Jan; 123:546-552.

Dry Eye Improvement with Omega-3 Supplementation

man suffering from dry eyes

Results from a meta-analysis concluded that there was a benefit for supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids in patients with dry eye disease, reported a study published in the journal Cornea.*

Researchers at the University of Bologna, in Italy, selected 17 randomized trials that evaluated the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in 3,363 participants with dry eye.

Subjects included men and women with dry eye disease caused by meibomian gland dysfunction, visual display terminal use, Sjögren syndrome, contact lens wear, rosacea and unspecified causes. Average follow-up periods ranged from one to 12 months.

In a pooled analysis of all participants, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was associated with a reduction in dry eye symptoms and corneal fluorescein staining (an indicator of corneal abrasion) in comparison with a placebo. Tear breakup time and Schirmer test values (a measure of tear production) increased in association with omega-3.

Editor’s Note: “Based on current evidence available, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may be recommended in clinical practice for treatment of this condition,” the authors concluded.

*Cornea. 2019 May;38(5):565-573.

Scientists Call for More Consistent Radiation Doses from CT Scans

patient about to undergo a CT scan

Computed tomography (CT) scans are beneficial because they help diagnose a range of conditions, but the radiation from CT scans is associated with an increased risk of cancer.* This makes it important to use the smallest radiation dose possible.

Studies have shown that radiation doses from CT scans vary widely. In many cases, they can be reduced by 50% or more without reducing quality or accuracy.

To find out the underlying reasons for the variation, researchers analyzed more than two million CT scans from 151 institutions across seven countries.

They found that how the scanners were used by the medical staff was the primary factor responsible for the wide variation in radiation doses, as opposed to differences in the patients scanned, the specific machine used, or the type of institution using it.

Editor’s Note: This study indicates that it is possible to establish more consistent radiation dose standards. Doing so will help ensure that patients aren’t exposed to unnecessary radiation risks. When a CT scan is needed, ask for the lowest radiation intensity to be used.

*BMJ. 2019 Jan 2;364:k4931.

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