Life Extension Magazine®

DNA being affected by viruses from low vitamin D levels

In the News: Lactoferrin Helps Fight Infectious Diseases

Vitamin D improves cancer survival rate; lactoferrin fights infectious diseases; quercetin lowers blood pressure; metformin reduces acne in women; optimism reduces cardiovascular risk.

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

Lactoferrin Helps Fight Infectious Diseases

Lactoferrin is a glycoprotein that plays an important role in the immune system.

Research has shown that lactoferrin has antiviral activity against viruses such as rotavirus, herpes, and HIV—and against respiratory viruses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).1

Now, research published in the Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection has found that lactoferrin can help attenuate infectious diseases.2

In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 290 healthy adults took either 200 mg of lactoferrin, 600 mg of lactoferrin, or a placebo for 12 weeks.

Both lactoferrin doses reduced the duration of infectious diseases (including cold sores, gastroenteritis, and styes) and the summer cold.

Editor’s Note: Lactoferrin is known to have some immunostimulatory effects such as enhancing the production of secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA), the phagocytic capacity of neutrophils, and the cytotoxicity of natural killer (NK) cells.


  1. Antiviral Res. 2001 Dec;52(3):225-39.
  2. J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2020 Feb 26.

Cancer Patients’ Vitamin D Supplementation Associated with Better Survival Rate

Woman in a field

Cancer patients who supplemented with vitamin D had improved survival rates, according to a meta-analysis reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.*

For their analysis, the researchers selected 10 randomized, controlled trials that included a total of 79,055 cancer patients. Trials compared the effects on cancer incidence and mortality of at least three years of vitamin D supplementation, and with a placebo.

The analysis showed that vitamin D supplementation was associated with a 13% lower risk of dying from cancer compared with taking a placebo.

“Vitamin D had a significant effect on lowering the risk of death among those with cancer,” said coauthor Tarek Haykal, M.D. “The difference in the mortality rate between the vitamin D and placebo groups was statistically significant enough that it showed just how important it might be among the cancer population.”

Editor’s Note: Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality in the U.S., the authors noted.

*J Clin Oncol. 2019; 37 (15_suppl): 1534.

Meta-Analysis Supports Use of Quercetin for High Blood Pressure

Woman checking blood pressure

A meta-analysis published in Nutrition Reviews concluded that there is a beneficial role for quercetin supplementation in people with high blood pressure.* Quercetin is a flavonoid found in apples, onions, tea and other plant foods.

The meta-analysis included 17 trials that involved a total of 896 participants, many of whom were at risk of cardiovascular disease. Trials compared the effects of quercetin or a quercetin-rich extract to a placebo or no treatment for periods ranging from 2 to 12 weeks. In addition to blood pressure, plasma lipids and glucose and/or insulin were measured at the beginning and end of the studies.

Pooled results of 13 treatment arms revealed an association between quercetin supplementation and reduced blood pressure. Quercetin administration was associated with a 3.09 mmHg average reduction in systolic blood pressure and a 2.86 mmHg reduction in diastolic pressure. A decrease in triglycerides and increase in HDL cholesterol levels occurred among participants who consumed quercetin for eight or more weeks.

Editor’s Note: The authors concluded that, “Quercetin intake resulted in significantly decreased blood pressure in humans. Moreover, participants who consumed quercetin for eight weeks or more showed significantly changed levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides in trials with a parallel design.”

*Nutr Rev. 2020 Jan 6.

Optimism Reduces Cardiovascular Risk

couple dancing

Optimism is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open.*

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 15 studies, including nearly 230,000 people. They found that optimism was associated with a 35% reduced risk of cardiovascular events and a 14% reduced risk of all-cause mortality.

Cardiovascular events included fatal cardiovascular mortality, nonfatal myocardial infarction, stroke, and new-onset angina.

Editor’s Note: “Future studies should seek to better define the biobehavioral mechanisms underlying this association and evaluate the potential benefit of interventions designed to promote optimism or reduce pessimism,” the authors concluded.

*JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(9):e1912200.

Metformin Reduces Acne in Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Woman holding a chicken

Metformin reduces the severity of acne in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.*

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can cause hyperandrogenism (high levels of male hormones), which can contribute to acne.

For the study, 40 women with PCOS and acne were given 500 mg of metformin three times a day for eight weeks.

The results showed that metformin significantly reduced the severity of acne in patients with PCOS by reducing ovarian hyperandrogenism.

Editor’s Note: The researchers concluded, “Our results suggest that metformin might serve as an effective therapy for ovarian hyperandrogenism and acne in women with PCOS.”

*J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2019;12(5):34–38.