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What's Hot

News flashes are posted here frequently to keep you up-to-date with the latest advances in health and longevity. We have an unparalleled track record of breaking stories about life extension advances.


Antioxidant nutrients could protect older fathers

Antioxidant nutrients could protect older fathersAugust 31, 2012. In an article published online on August 27, 2012 in the journal Fertility and Sterility, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in collaboration with scientists from the University of Bradford in England report a protective effect for several nutrients with antioxidant benefits on the quality of sperm in older men. 

Andy Wyrobek of Lawrence Lab’s Life Science Division and his associates analyzed sperm damage in 80 nonsmoking men aged 22 to 80.  Dietary questionnaire responses were analyzed for the intake of beta-carotene, folate, vitamins C and E, and zinc from food and supplements.  A reduction in damage was associated with increased intake of specific nutrients, particularly vitamin C.  "It appears that consuming more micronutrients such as vitamin C, E, folate and zinc helps turn back the clock for older men,” Dr Wyrobek reported. “We found that men 44 and older who consumed at least the recommended dietary allowance of certain micronutrients had sperm with a similar amount of DNA damage as the sperm of younger men. This means that men who are at increased risk of sperm DNA damage because of advancing age can do something about it. They can make sure they get enough vitamins and micronutrients in their diets or through supplements."

"The different response of the old and young men presents new opportunities for health care, especially for older men planning families," he added.  "Our research points to a need for future studies to determine whether increased antioxidant intake in older fathers will improve fertility, reduce risks of genetically defective pregnancies, and result in healthier children.  The research also raises a broader question beyond sperm DNA:  how might lifestyle factors, including higher intakes of antioxidants and micronutrients, protect somatic as well as germ cells against age-related genomic damage?"

—D Dye 


Plant compounds prevent cancer metastasis

Plant compounds prevent cancer metastasisAugust 29, 2012. The spread of cancer to organs other than the one in which the disease originated is the source of most cancer mortality.  In a review article published online on June 13, 2012 in the journal Cancer and Metastasis Reviews, Washington State University professor Gary G. Meadows reports that compounds found in various plants can help prevent metastasis and reduce the risk of death from one of the world’s most prolific killers.  "We're always looking for a magic bullet," stated Dr Meadows, who is the associate dean for graduate education and scholarship at WSU’s College of Pharmacy. "Well, there are lots of magic bullets out there in what we eat and associated with our lifestyle. We just need to take advantage of those. And they can work together."

The review reveals that vitamin D, ginseng, lycopene, curcumin, pomegranate, fish oil and more influence gene expression in breast, colorectal, lung, prostate, skin and other cancers.  The compounds work against cancer metastasis epigenetically, meaning that they switch on metastasis suppressor genes.  "So these epigenetic mechanisms are influenced by what you eat," Dr Meadows explained. "That may also be related to how the metastasis suppressor genes are being regulated. That's a very new area of research that has largely not been very well explored in terms of diet and nutrition."

"There's likely to be more compounds out there, more constituents, that people haven't even evaluated yet," he added.

"We've kind of focused on the cancer for a long time,” Dr Meadows remarked.  “More recently we've started to focus on the cancer in its environment. And the environment, your whole body as an environment, is really important in whether or not that cancer will spread."

—D Dye 


Intravenous delivery of tea compound shrinks and destroys skin tumors

Intravenous delivery of tea compound shrinks and destroys skin tumorsAugust 27, 2012. In an article published online on August 14, 2012 in the journal Nanomedicine, researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland report a strong effect for green tea extract in combating skin cancer when delivered intravenously. While oral green tea intake has been associated with significant cancer-preventive benefits, its effectiveness as a treatment for pre-existing cancers has had less evidence in its favor.

Dr Christine Dufès and her associates tested an intravenous formulation of a green tea extract containing a significant concentration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in an animal model of two types of skin cancer. The extract was encapsulated in vesicles containing the plasma protein known as transferrin, which transports iron throughout the body and has numerous receptors in many cancers.

Forty percent of both varieties of skin tumors disappeared after intravenous treatment with EGCG. Thirty percent of the remaining tumors among one type of tumor and 20 percent of the other variety underwent shrinkage, and stabilization was noted in an additional 10 percent. The study is believed to be the first successful test of the delivery method of the extract in cancerous tumors.

"These are very encouraging results which we hope could pave the way for new and effective cancer treatments," stated Dr Dufès, who is a senior lecturer at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. "When we used our method, the green tea extract reduced the size of many of the tumors every day, in some cases removing them altogether. By contrast, the extract had no effect at all when it was delivered by other means, as every one of these tumors continued to grow. This research could open doors to new treatments for what is still one of the biggest killer diseases in many countries."

—D Dye 


Prostate cancer risk increases with pan fried meat consumption

Prostate cancer risk increases with pan fried meat consumptionAugust 22, 2012. In the November 2012 issue of the journal Carcinogenesis, associate professor of preventive medicine Mariana Stern of the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine and her colleagues reveal an association between pan fried meat intake and a higher risk of prostate cancer.

"We found that men who ate more than 1.5 servings of pan-fried red meat per week increased their risk of advanced prostate cancer by 30 percent," reported Dr Stern. "In addition, men who ate more than 2.5 servings of red meat cooked at high temperatures were 40 percent more likely to have advanced prostate cancer."

The study analyzed data from 717 men with localized prostate cancer, 1,140 advanced cases and 1,096 men without the disease who were enrolled in the California Collaborative Prostate Cancer Study. Questionnaires completed by the subjects provided information on poultry and red meat intake, including cooking practices.

The team uncovered an association between advanced prostate cancer and a high intake of red meat cooked at high temperatures, as well as with well done meat. A reduction in the risk of advanced disease was correlated with baked poultry intake. When meat intake was examined by type, hamburger was found to increase prostate cancer risk. "We speculate that these findings are a result of different levels of carcinogen accumulation found in hamburgers, given that they can attain higher internal and external temperatures faster than steak," Dr Stern commented.

"The observations from this study alone are not enough to make any health recommendations, but given the few modifiable risk factors known for prostate cancer, the understanding of dietary factors and cooking methods are of high public health relevance," she remarked.

—D Dye 


Olive oil-rich Mediterranean diet may benefit bone

Olive oil-rich Mediterranean diet may benefit boneAugust 20, 2012. A report published online on August 1, 2012 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM) describes the results of a study of the effects of a Mediterranean diet on markers of bone formation in older men. "This is the first randomized study which demonstrates that olive oil preserves bone, at least as inferred by circulating bone markers, in humans," announced lead researcher José Manuel Fernández-Real, MD, PhD, of Hospital Dr Josep Trueta in Girona, Spain.

The study included 127 men aged 55 to 80 years enrolled in the Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea (PREDIMED) study, which was designed to evaluate the cardioprotective effect of the Mediterranean diet. Participants in the current study had type 2 diabetes or three or more cardiovascular risk factors. The subjects were randomized to consume a Mediterranean diet with mixed nuts, a Mediterranean diet enhanced with virgin olive oil or a low fat diet for two years. Circulating osteocalcin, undercarboxylated osteocalcin, C-telopeptide of type 1 collagen and procollagen I N-terminal propeptide levels were measured at the beginning and end of the study. In addition to these markers of bone formation and resorption, fasting insulin, glucose and other factors were assessed.

Men who consumed the olive-oil enriched Mediterranean diet had significant increases in total osteocalcin and procollagen I N-terminal peptide, while these values remained the same in men who consumed the other diets. Greater intake of olives was also associated with increased osteocalcin at the beginning and end of the intervention.

"The intake of olive oil has been related to the prevention of osteoporosis in experimental and in vitro models," Dr Fernández-Real noted. "It's important to note that circulating osteocalcin was associated with preserved insulin secretion in subjects taking olive oil. Osteocalcin has also been described to increase insulin secretion in experimental models."

—D Dye 


Walnuts improve sperm quality in young men

Walnuts improve sperm quality in young menAugust 17, 2012. On August 15, 2012 in the journal Biology of Reproduction, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles report the finding of a benefit for sperm quality in men who regularly consumed walnuts. Walnuts are a source of α-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid also found in flax oil.

The study included 117 healthy men between the ages of 21 and 35 who consumed a Western-style diet. Dr Wendie A. Robbins and her associates assigned 59 men to 75 grams of walnuts per day (an amount previously determined not to result in weight gain) and advised the remainder to avoid consuming tree nuts over the course of twelve weeks. Sperm vitality, motility and morphology, as well as body mass index and activity level were assessed at the beginning and end of the treatment period.

While body mass index and activity levels did not change significantly in either group, men who consumed walnuts experienced elevations in ALA and omega-6 fatty acids as well as improved sperm vitality, motility and morphology. Sperm from the group who consumed walnuts also had fewer chromosomal abnormalities at the end of the study compared to the beginning.

While up to half of the cases of couples' inability to conceive are attributed to men, it is not known whether the improvements in sperm quality observed in the study would also improve fertility. "Seventy-five grams walnuts per day improved sperm vitality, motility, and morphology (normal forms) in a group of healthy, young men eating a Western-style diet," the authors conclude. "Whether adding walnuts to the diet will go beyond the shifts in sperm parameters as seen in this study to improving birth outcomes for men within fertility clinic populations or in the general population is not yet known and will require further research."

—D Dye


Serum vitamin D levels inversely related to risk of dying over two year period

Serum vitamin D levels inversely related to risk of dying over two year periodAugust 15, 2012. Research reported in the August, 2012 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism demonstrated a declining risk of death from all causes in association with increasing serum levels of vitamin D.

The study included 182,152 men and women insured by Israels Clalit Health Services who were 20 years of age or more at the time of blood testing for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Participants were followed for an average of 28.5 months, during which 7,247 deaths occurred.

The researchers observed a rising risk of death in association with declining levels of vitamin D. The association was observed among participants with levels considered insufficient as well as those with deficient levels. Those whose serum vitamin D levels were among the lowest 25 percent of participants at 33.8 nanomoles per liter (nmol/liter) or less had twice the adjusted risk of dying compared with subjects whose levels were highest at over 65.2 nmol/liter. The risk was slightly higher for those with diabetes compared to nondiabetic subjects.

Authors Walid Saliba of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and colleagues remark that, given the short follow-up period, the current studys findings suggest an association of reduced levels of vitamin D with disease outcome rather than on the initiation of new disease. However, they note that it is not clear whether decreased serum vitamin D is a biomarker of poor health or a direct cause of disease and mortality.

"We found vitamin D to be inversely associated with all-cause mortality, with a significant dose-response effect," they conclude. "Subjects with serum 25(OH)D levels less than 50 nmol/liter are particularly at increased risk for mortality. Randomized clinical trials to evaluate the effect of vitamin D supplementation on mortality are warranted to support these findings."

—D Dye 


Grapes show cardioprotective benefit for men with metabolic syndrome

Grapes show cardioprotective benefit for men with metabolic syndromeAugust 10, 2012. Researchers from the University of Connecticut report improvements in several cardiovascular risk factors in conjunction with supplementation with powdered grapes by men with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of factors associated with an elevated risk of diabetes and heart disease. The findings were reported in an article published online on July 18, 2012 in the Journal of Nutrition.

Dr Maria Luz Fernandez and her colleagues randomized 24 men aged 30 to 70 to receive a placebo or freeze dried grape polyphenol powder for 30 days, followed by a three week period of no treatment. Participates then underwent another 30 days during which their previous treatments were switched. Blood pressure, brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilation (an assessment of endothelial function), plasma soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (which have been associated with the development of coronary heart disease), and other factors were measured before and after each treatment period.

Supplementation with powdered grape resulted in a decrease in systolic blood pressure and plasma soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1, in addition to improved endothelial function. The authors conclude that grapes "may potentiate vasorelaxation and reduce blood pressure and circulating cell adhesion molecules, resulting in improvements in vascular function."

The study is the first, to the researchers knowledge, to examine the effect of grape intake on the metabolic syndrome. "These results suggest that consuming grapes can improve important risk factors associated with heart disease, in a population that is already at higher risk," stated Dr Fernandez, who is affiliated with the University of Connecticut's Department of Nutritional Sciences. "This further supports the accumulating evidence that grapes can positively influence heart health, and extends it to men with metabolic syndrome."

—D Dye 


Breast cancer cluster linked to vitamin D receptor variant

Breast cancer cluster linked to vitamin D receptor variantAugust 10, 2012. A report published online on August 4, 2012 in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons reveals a possible factor behind the high rate of breast cancer that has been documented among women residing in Marin County, California. While previous research uncovered a greater intake of alcohol among Marins breast cancer patients, the current study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found a genetic factor associated with the area's higher rate.

The study involved 338 Caucasian subjects who participated in the earlier research. One hundred sixty-four women who were diagnosed with primary breast cancer between 1997 and 1999 were age and ethnicity-matched with 174 controls. Frozen buccal cell samples were analyzed to determine which women were at high lifetime risk of breast cancer. The risk model, developed by InterGenetics, Inc, incorporated 22 variations in 19 genes and five clinical risk factors.

A genetic variation known as the vitamin D receptor (VDR) Apa1 A2/A2 homozygous polymorphism was found in 64 percent of the women at high risk of breast cancer in comparison with 34 percent of the overall population. "While the findings must be validated in a much larger, prospective study, we found that women who were at high risk for breast cancer were 1.9 times more likely to have a specific vitamin D receptor variation than the general population," reported lead researcher Kathie Dalessandri, MD, FACS, who is a surgeon scientist in Point Reyes Station, California.

"The high frequency of the VDR Apa1 A2/A2 homozygous polymorphism in women designated as elevated risk for breast cancer by the polyfactorial risk model might be related to the high incidence rates of breast cancer in Marin County, California," the authors conclude. "Vitamin D supplementation could modify risk of breast cancer in this population."

—D Dye


Smart diet equals smart children

Smart diet equals smart childrenAugust 8, 2012. In the July, 2012 issue of the European Journal of Epidemiology, Lisa G. Smithers, PhD and her associates at the University of Adelaide in Australia report that a healthy diet early in life benefits childrens intelligence at a later age.

The study included 7,097 children enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which collected dietary data at 6, 15, 24 months of age. Intelligence quotient (IQ) was assessed at 8 years. "Diet supplies the nutrients needed for the development of brain tissues in the first two years of life, and the aim of this study was to look at what impact diet would have on childrens IQs," explained Dr Smithers, who is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Adelaides School of Population Health.

"We found that children who were breastfed at six months and had a healthy diet regularly including foods such as legumes, cheese, fruit and vegetables at 15 and 24 months, had an IQ up to two points higher by age eight," she reported. "Those children who had a diet regularly involving biscuits, chocolate, sweets, soft drinks and chips in the first two years of life had IQs up to two points lower by age eight. We also found some negative impact on IQ from ready-prepared baby foods given at six months, but some positive associations when given at 24 months."

"While the differences in IQ are not huge, this study provides some of the strongest evidence to date that dietary patterns from six to 24 months have a small but significant effect on IQ at eight years of age," she added. "It is important that we consider the longer-term impact of the foods we feed our children."

—D Dye 


Broccoli compound shows promise in rodent model of breast cancer

Broccoli compound shows promise in rodent model of breast cancerAugust 6, 2012. In an article published online on August 2, 2012 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Shivendra V. Singh, PhD or the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and colleagues report a benefit for phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a compound that occurs in broccoli, watercress and other cruciferous vegetables, in retarding the progression of mammary cancer in mice.

The study utilized animals bred to carry a mouse mammary tumor virus-activated oncogene as a model of human breast cancer. Thirty-five mice were given control diets and 33 were provided with diets supplemented with PIETC for 29 weeks, after which breast tissue specimens were examined for tumor incidence and size. Cell proliferation, apoptosis (programmed cell death) and angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation) were also assessed.

At the end of the study, PEITC was detected in plasma as well as in normal and cancerous mammary tissue of mice that received the compound. In comparison with mice that received the control diet, animals that received PEITC-enhanced diets had a 53.13 percent lower incidence of palpable tumors, and a 56.3 percent reduction in microscopic mammary cancer lesions larger than 2 millimeters. Cancer growth inhibition was found to be associated with a reduction in cellular proliferation and angiogenesis, accompanied by an increase in apoptosis. In addition, the intratumoral expression of the protein ATP synthase was lowered, and plasma transthyretin (a carrier of retinol and the hormone thyroxine) was elevated.

"Although PEITC administration does not confer complete protection against mammary carcinogenesis, mice placed on the PEITC-supplemented diet, compared with mice placed on the control diet, clearly exhibited suppression of carcinoma progression," Dr Singh and his coauthors conclude. "ATP synthase and transthyretin appear to be novel biomarkers associated with PEITC exposure."

—D Dye 


Coffee may benefit Parkinson's patients

Coffee may benefit Parkinsons patientsAugust 3, 2012. In an article published online on August 1, 2012 in the journal Neurology®, Canadian researchers report a benefit for caffeine in movement control in men and women with Parkinson's disease.

Ronald Postuma, MD of the Research Institute of McGill University Health Centre and his associates divided 61 Parkinson's disease patients to receive a placebo or 100 milligrams caffeine twice per day for three weeks, followed by 200 milligrams twice daily (equal to the amount of caffeine found in two to four cups of coffee) for three additional weeks. Daytime sleepiness (a common complaint in Parkinson's disease), nighttime sleep quality, movement, depression and quality of life were evaluated before and after treatment. "We wanted to discover how caffeine could impact sleepiness as well as the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease, such as slowness of movement, muscle stiffness, shaking and loss of balance," Dr Postuma explained.

While daytime sleepiness improved only slightly, participants who received caffeine experienced a significant improvement in movement. "The people who received caffeine supplements experienced an improvement in their motor symptoms (a five-point improvement on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale, a rating scale used to measure the severity of the disease) over those who received the placebo," Dr Postuma stated. "This was due to improvement in speed of movement and a reduction in stiffness."

"This is one of the first studies to show the benefits of caffeine on motor impairment in people who have Parkinson's disease," he announced. "Research has already shown that people who drink coffee have a lower risk of developing Parkinsons disease, but until now no study had looked at the immediate clinical implications of this finding."

"Caffeine should be explored as a treatment option for Parkinson's disease," Dr Postuma concluded. "It may be useful as a supplement to medication and could therefore help reduce patient dosages."

—D Dye


Three months of green tea extract results in reductions in inflammation, blood pressure and oxidative stress in obese men and women

Three months of green tea extract results in reduced inflammation, blood pressure and oxidative stress in obese men and womenAugust 1, 2012. A report in the June, 2012 issue of Nutrition Research revealed the results of a double-blinded trial which found a benefit for supplementation with green tea extract on blood pressure, inflammation, oxidative stress and insulin resistance. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first clinical trial performed on obese, hypertensive patients," announce authors Pawel Bogdanski and his colleagues at Poland's Poznan University.

Fifty-six men and women with high blood pressure and a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or more were randomized to receive a capsule containing 379 milligrams green tea extract or a placebo for three months. Blood pressure and serum levels of lipids, glucose, antioxidants, insulin and the inflammatory markers tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured before and after treatment.

At the end of the study, subjects who received green tea had improved insulin resistance, blood pressure, lipids, inflammation and total antioxidant status. Dr Bogdanski and his associates remark that green tea's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions may explain its cardioprotective and blood pressure-lowering effects.

"The present findings demonstrate strong evidence for a beneficial influence of green tea extract supplementation on blood pressure, carbohydrate metabolism, and lipid profile, as well as on inflammation and oxidative stress, in patients with obesity-related hypertension," the authors write. "Further studies on a larger scale and with a longer duration of observation are needed to support our data and to explore their mechanistic basis."

—D Dye 


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