Life Extension Magazine®

In The News: May 2019

A metformin-quercetin combination reduces growth of prostate cancer; eating 30% or more of your calories after 6 p.m. poses health dangers; a sedentary lifestyle raises risks of kidney and bladder cancer; lactoferrin eases some chemotherapy side effects.

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

Inflammation in Midlife Linked to Steeper Cognitive Decline in Later Life

Middle-aged people with higher levels of chronic inflammation experience greater cognitive decline for the next two decades, according to a study published in the journal Neurology.*

What you need to know

Midlife inflammation increases cognitive decline in later life; Metformin and quercetin have a synergistic effect against prostate cancer cells; When you eat may be just as important as what you eat; Bladder and kidney cancer increases with sedentary lifestyle; Lactoferrin helps improve loss of taste and smell after chemotherapy.

For 20 years, researchers followed 12,336 participants, whose average age was 57 at the start. These men and women were part of the ongoing study called Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC). The individuals' inflammation composite score, using 4 blood biomarkers, was measured at the beginning. Another measurement of inflammation, C-reactive protein (CRP), was taken later. Each person's cognitive ability was also assessed at the start of the study, 6 to 9 years later, and at the end.

Researchers determined cognition scores by measuring memory, executive function and language, at three different times over the course of the study. They adjusted for a wide range of variables, including educational attainment, demographic factors, and the presence of disease.

What they found was that people with the highest inflammation scores had a 7.8% steeper decline in cognitive ability than those with the lowest scores. Additionally, participants with the highest CRP levels showed cognitive decline at a rate that was 11.6% higher than for those with the lowest levels, notably in the area of memory.

Editor's Note: "Our findings highlight what may be an early pathogenic role for systemic inflammation as a driver of cognitive decline in the decades leading up to older adulthood," the authors concluded.

*Neurology. 2019 Feb 13.


Metformin and Quercetin Work Better Together Against Prostate Cancer Cells

Man Jogging

A study published in the journal Gene found that a combination of metformin and quercetin can have synergistic effects in the treatment of prostate cancer.*

The scientists first observed this effect in cell culture, and then confirmed it in an animal model where the combination treatment helped block the growth of implanted prostate cancer cells in mice.

Metformin, a well-known diabetes medication for reducing blood sugar, has recently been studied for its anti-cancer effects, because researchers discovered lower rates of cancer in diabetic patients who took it.

Quercetin, a natural compound, is present in many fruits and vegetables, and it has also been found to have anti-tumor effects.

The results of this study demonstrate that the 2 compounds work together to reduce the growth of prostate cancer, inducing death in the cancer cells and preventing their spread. This effect was more powerful when the 2 compounds were combined, compared to administering either one singly.

Editor's Note: The combination of metformin and quercetin may prove to be a useful tool in the management of human prostate cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer in men, the researchers concluded.

* Gene. 2018 Jul 20;664:50-57.


When You Eat May be as Important as What You Eat

Bowl of healthy food

A study supported by the American Heart Association found that people who consumed 30% or more of their calories for the day after 6 p.m. were at an increased risk for disease.* This was the case even when eating at night was not associated with obesity.

Data were analyzed from 12,708 participants 18 to 76 years old, in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. The subjects consumed, on average, 35.7% of their daily calories after 6 p.m.

The researchers observed an increase in risk factors for diabetes, including higher fasting glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance in association with each 1% increase in the number of daily calories consumed later than 6 p.m., which is about 20 calories in a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. Among the 56.6% of participants who consumed more than 30% of their calories after 6 p.m., there was a 23% higher risk of developing hypertension and a 19% greater risk of becoming prediabetic, in comparison with the risks experienced by those who consumed less than 30% of their daily intake after 6 p.m.

Editor's Note: "There is increasing evidence that when we eat is important, in addition to what we eat and how much we eat," said lead author Nour Makarem, PhD. "In our study we show that if you eat most of your calories before 6 p.m., you may have better cardiovascular health. Your meal timing matters and eating earlier in the day may be an important strategy to help lower the risk for heart disease."

* 2018. American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.


Sedentary Lifestyle Can Raise Risk for Kidney and Bladder Cancer

Woman using computer

A lifetime of physical inactivity has been shown to increase the risk for kidney and bladder cancer, even when obesity is not a factor, according to a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.*

After identifying 160 patients diagnosed with renal (kidney) cancer and 208 patients with bladder cancer, researchers compared them to 766 age-matched control subjects who did not have cancer.

Study subjects were then asked in detail about their physical activity. In particular, the researchers wanted to identify those individuals who reported that they had not participated in any regular physical activity throughout their lifetimes.

The findings showed that a sedentary lifestyle, lacking in regular physical exertion, was significantly associated with more than 1.7 times greater risk for both of these forms of cancer. Furthermore, even when removing subjects who were obese from the analysis, absence of physical activity was still an independent predictor of cancer risk.

Editor's Note: For decades, physicians have recognized sedentary lifestyle as a major risk factor for metabolic disease, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. However, increasing evidence is linking lack of physical activity to risk for other chronic diseases, including various forms of cancer. It appears that this increased risk is not tied only to obesity, as even sedentary individuals with normal weight were at higher risk for renal and bladder cancer.

* Cancer Epidemiol. 2017 Aug;49:24-29.


Lactoferrin Can Help Ease Loss of Taste, Smell, after Chemotherapy

Women wearing pink

A frequent side effect for chemotherapy patients, abnormalities in taste and smell, can be improved by supplementing with lactoferrin (a protein that occurs in milk and saliva) the journal Food & Function reported.* A study found that lactoferrin could help reduce chemotherapy-related loss of taste and smell, which can have an impact on patients' food intake.

Twelve healthy participants and 19 cancer patients with chemotherapy-related taste and smell abnormalities were given 3 lactoferrin tablets of 250 mg each, per day, for 30 days. Saliva samples were analyzed for proteins and minerals at the beginning of the treatment period, at 30 days, and then 30 days after the end of treatment.

A significant level of abnormalities in taste and smell was associated with a loss of salivary immune proteins and high salivary iron, and these changes were modified following supplementation with lactoferrin. "Our research shows that daily lactoferrin supplementation elicits changes in the salivary protein profiles in cancer patients—changes that may be influential in helping to protect taste buds and odor perception," researcher Susan Duncan said.

Editor's Note: "This study demonstrated the feasibility of developing lactoferrin supplementation as a treatment to reduce taste and smell abnormalities caused by chemotherapy, and improve patients' oral immunity," the researchers asserted.

* Food Funct. 2018 Sep 19;9(9):4948-4958.