Life Extension Magazine®
Spoonful of ground turmeric that may relieve knee pain

In The News: Turmeric Can Help Relieve Knee Pain

Turmeric relieves knee pain; vitamin C may preserve muscle mass; fish oil reduces heart disease; melatonin may slow brain tumors.

Turmeric Can Help Relieve Knee Pain

Man holding knee due to pain

Pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee may be relieved with turmeric, according to the results of a randomized trial published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.*

The researchers noted that current pharmacologic therapies, including acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are associated with adverse gastrointestinal, renal, and cardiovascular effects.

The trial included 70 participants with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis and swelling within the knee joint. They received either turmeric or a placebo for 12 weeks. Knee pain was assessed by responses to questionnaires, and swelling was monitored with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during the course of the study.

By the end of the trial, turmeric supplementation was associated with improvements in weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing knee pain, stiffness, function, and need for pain medication intake, compared with the placebo group.

Editor’s Note: Turmeric is an extract of the root of Curcuma longa, a source of the compound curcumin.

*Ann Int Med. 2020 Sep 15.

Vitamin C May Help Preserve Muscle Mass

Woman with dumbbell preserving muscle mass

An association was found between higher intake of vitamin C and greater skeletal muscle mass in older men and women, according to an article published in the Journal of Nutrition. Loss of muscle mass that occurs during aging can lead to sarcopenia and diminished quality of life.*

The study included over 13,000 participants in the Norfolk cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study.

Skeletal muscle mass was estimated using bioelectrical impedance analysis. Blood samples were analyzed for plasma vitamin C levels, and food diaries completed by the subjects provided information concerning vitamin C intake.

“We studied a large sample of older Norfolk residents and found that people with the highest amounts of vitamin C in their diet or blood had the greatest estimated skeletal muscle mass, compared to those with the lowest amounts,” reported coauthor Richard Hayhoe, PhD, Senior Research Associate in Public Health Nutrition at the University of East Anglia, in the United Kingdom.

Editor’s Note: “This is particularly significant as vitamin C is readily available in fruits and vegetables, or supplements, so improving intake of this vitamin is relatively straightforward,” Dr. Hayhoe said. “We found that nearly 60% of men and 50% of women participants were not consuming as much vitamin C as they should, according to the European Food Safety Agency recommendations.”

*J Nutr. 2020 Aug 26.

Fish Oil Linked to Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Premature Mortality

Running man taking fish oil for heart health

A lower risk of premature mortality and cardiovascular disease events was found among people who supplemented with fish oil, compared with those who didn’t, reported a study published in The BMJ.*

The study included 427,678 subjects who enrolled in UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010. They completed questionnaires at the beginning of the study, providing information concerning supplement use, and other data. Hospital records and death certificates documented their mortality during follow-up, which concluded at the end of 2018.

At enrollment, 31% of the subjects said they used fish oil. During follow-up, fish oil users had a 7% lower adjusted risk of experiencing cardiovascular events, a 16% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, a 20% lower mortality risk from heart attack, and a 13% lower risk of dying from any cause, compared to those who did not use fish oil.

Editor’s Note: The authors stated that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil have shown beneficial effects on blood pressure, triglycerides, heart rate, endothelial function, inflammation, and blood clotting, as well as help in protecting against cardiac arrhythmias. “Fish oil supplementation could be an inexpensive, quick, safe way of increasing an individual’s omega-3 fatty acid intake,” they asserted.

*BMJ 2020;368:m456.

Melatonin’s Potential Benefits Against Aggressive Brain Tumors

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A study published in the journal Cells investigated the effects of melatonin—both alone and in combination with anticancer drugs—against glioblastoma.*

Glioblastoma is a type of aggressive brain tumor that is exceptionally challenging to treat. Average life expectancy is less than one year after diagnosis.

Researchers found that melatonin has numerous properties against glioblastoma cells. It interacts with cancer cells and interferes with glioblastoma proliferative activity and aggressiveness.

In vitro studies suggested that using melatonin in combination with the standard therapy, TMZ (temozolomide), could enhance the drug’s cytotoxic effects against the cancer and help decrease the dosage required. This could reduce side effects and improve quality of life.

Editor’s note: The researchers concluded that melatonin has an impressive variety of properties against glioblastoma, and that it is “a promising agent in the field of antineoplastic research.”

*Cells. 2020;9(3):599.

Cardiovascular Benefits of High-Dose Omega-3s

Woman running after high omega-3 meal

A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows the cardiovascular benefits of taking higher doses of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.*

This meta-analysis, which involved 40 interventional studies and included over 135,000 patients, evaluated the effect of two types of omega-3s—EPA and DHA—on the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that EPA plus DHA supplementation was associated with:

  • 35% reduced risk of fatal myocardial infarction
  • 13% reduced risk of myocardial infarction
  • 10% reduced risk of coronary heart disease events
  • 9% reduced risk of coronary heart disease mortality

The higher the dose, the greater the protection.

For example, an extra 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 5.8% and of heart attack by 9%.

Editor’s Note: The study authors concluded, “The current study presents strong evidence that EPA+DHA supplementation is an effective strategy for the prevention of certain [cardiovascular disease] outcomes, and that for [cardiovascular disease] events and [myocardial infarction] the protective effect appears to increase with dosage. Authoritative bodies issuing intake recommendations and health care providers need to consider taking these results into account. Considering the relatively low costs and side effect profiles of omega-3 supplementation and the low drug-drug interactions with other standard therapies used in primary and secondary [cardiovascular disease] prevention, clinicians and patients should consider the potential benefits of omega-3 (EPA/DHA) supplementation.”

*Mayo Clinic Proceedings. September 17, 2020.