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.
Green tea compounds may be protective among men at high risk of prostate cancer
May 29 2015. The results of a trial presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, held May 29-June 2, suggest that the intake of active compounds found in green tea could help protect against the development of prostate cancer among men with premalignant lesions.
Nagi B. Kumar, PhD, RD, FADA of Moffitt Cancer Center and colleagues reported the findings of a trial described online on April 14, 2015 in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. Ninety-seven men with high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia and/or atypical small acinar proliferation were given capsules containing green tea catechins that provided 400 milligrams epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) per day or a placebo for one year.
Among the 49 men who received tea catechins, 5 developed prostate cancer in comparison with 9 among the 48 in the placebo group—a reduction that the researchers considered nonsignificant. When men who had only high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia upon enrollment were analyzed, a different picture emerged. Of the 26 men in this group who received green tea catechins, the combined rate of the development of prostate cancer or atypical small acinar proliferation was 3, compared to 10 of the 25 men who received a placebo. And among the 17 men with atypical small acinar proliferation at the beginning of the study, two were subsequently diagnosed with prostate cancer, compared to four of the fourteen who received a placebo. Tea catechin recipients also experienced a reduction in serum prostate specific antigen (PSA, a prostate cancer marker) in comparison with the placebo group.
Dr Kumar and colleagues suggest that "Future prostate cancer chemoprevention trials should ideally enroll larger cohorts of men at higher risk for this disease, perhaps with durations of interventions that continue beyond one year."
Meta-analysis concludes protective association for high vitamin D against lung cancer
May 27 2015. The results of a comprehensive review and meta-analysis published online on May 4, 2015 in Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry suggest a protective effect for vitamin D against the risk of developing lung cancer.
Researchers at Beijing Military Region General Hospital of PLA selected nine prospective cohort studies and three nested case-control studies that included a total of 288,778 men and women for their review. Three of the studies examined the association of vitamin D intake with lung cancer and the remainder utilized serum vitamin levels.
Higher vitamin D status, as determined by diet or serum, was associated with a 16% lower risk of lung cancer in comparison with low status. When studies that evaluated serum vitamin D levels were analyzed separately, the risk of lung cancer experienced by subjects whose levels were among the top 20% was 17% lower than that of subjects whose levels were among the lowest 20%. For vitamin D intake, the risk was 11% lower among the top one-fifth of subjects.
In their discussion, Liqun Zhang and colleagues observe that vitamin D may not only aide in the prevention of the development of cancer but also has an inhibitory effect on cancer cell proliferation and metastasis. It additionally has demonstrated an ability to prevent angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) and migration by cancerous cells.
"Current data suggest an inverse association between serum vitamin D and lung cancer risk," they conclude. "Further studies are needed to investigate the effect of vitamin D intake on lung cancer risk and to evaluate whether vitamin D supplementation can prevent lung cancer. In addition, more future studies are needed to further assess the association between serum vitamin D levels and prognosis of lung cancer patients."
How vitamin E keeps muscles healthy
May 25 2015. An article published in the July 2015 issue of Free Radical Biology & Medicine provides an explanation of how vitamin E helps build muscle.
"We previously showed that vitamin E supplementation promotes membrane repair in cultured cells and that oxidants potently inhibit repair," write Paul L. McNeil and colleagues. "Here we provide three independent lines of evidence that vitamin E is required for skeletal muscle myocyte plasma membrane repair in vivo."
For their research, Dr McNeil and his associates fed rats normal rodent chow, chow lacking vitamin E, or deficient chow plus supplemental vitamin E and tested their ability to run downhill on a treadmill. Vitamin E-deficient animals demonstrated reduced running ability compared to normal rats and showed increased muscle cell plasma membrane permeability. Examination of the deficient animals' quadriceps muscle fibers revealed diminished size and greater inflammation.
"Every cell in your body has a plasma membrane, and every membrane can be torn," Dr McNeil explained. "Part of how we build muscle is a more natural tearing and repair process -- that is the no pain, no gain portion -- but if that repair doesn't occur, what you get is muscle cell death. If that occurs over a long period of time, what you get is muscle-wasting disease."
"This means, for the first time, 83 years after its initial discovery, we know what the cellular function of vitamin E is, and knowing that cellular function, we can now ask whether we can apply that knowledge to medically relevant areas," he announced.
Dr McNeil predicts that vitamin E supplementation will be used not only to improve muscle cell membrane repair in diseases such as muscular dystrophy, but as a protective measure for individuals at risk of injury, such as military personnel. "The major medical significance here is yet to be uncovered," he said.
Caffeine use in men associated with surprising benefit
May 22 2015. On April 28, 2015 the journal PLOS ONE reported findings obtained from the National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) of an association between a greater intake of caffeine and a lower risk of erectile dysfunction (ED).
David S. Lopez, DrPH, MPH, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and his colleagues evaluated data from 3,724 men aged 20 and older who enrolled in NHANES from 2001-2004. Subject interview responses provided information concerning the occurrence of ED as well as food and beverages consumed over two 24-hour periods.
Dr Lopez and his associates found that men who consumed between 85 and 170 milligrams (mg) caffeine per day as estimated from beverage intake had a 42% lower risk of reporting ED in comparison with those who consumed 0 to 7 mg daily. For those whose intake was between 170 and 303 mg, equivalent to the amount in two to three cups coffee, the risk was 39% lower. The authors suggest that caffeine triggers a series of effects that lead to the relaxation of the penile arteries and cavernous smooth muscle, thereby increasing blood flow.
"Even though we saw a reduction in the prevalence of ED with men who were obese, overweight and hypertensive, that was not true of men with diabetes," Dr Lopez reported. "Diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors for ED, so this was not surprising."
"Coffee, and its most studied component, caffeine, have been implicated in potential health benefits due to the rich sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds contained in this beverage," the authors observe. They recommend further investigation of the association between ED and caffeine consumption in future prospective studies.
Greater cognitive flexibility associated with increased omega 3 levels
May 20 2015. An article published this month in Frontiers of Aging and Neuroscience reveals more cognitive flexibility and greater volume in an area of the brain known to contribute to this ability in association with higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids.
The study included 40 cognitively intact older adults whose APOEe4 genetic variant put them at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Fasting plasma samples were analyzed for the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Neuropsychological tests measured executive function, including cognitive flexibility, which describes the ability to switch between tasks efficiently. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measured gray matter volumes in numerous regions of the brain, including the anterior cingulate area.
"We wanted to confirm that higher omega 3 fatty acids related to better cognitive flexibility, and we did in fact see that," reported lead author Marta Zamroziewicz. "We also wanted to confirm that higher omega 3 fatty acids related to higher volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, and we saw that. Finally, we were able to show that higher volume in the anterior cingulate cortex was an intermediary in the relationship between omega 3 fatty acids and cognitive flexibility."
"There's been some work to show that omega 3 fatty acids benefit cognitive flexibility, and there's also been work showing that cognitive flexibility is linked to this specific brain region, the anterior cingulate," she added. "But there's been very little work actually connecting these pieces."
"Recent research suggests that there is a critical link between nutritional deficiencies and the incidence of both cognitive impairment and degenerative neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease," commented lead researcher Aron Barbey. "Our findings add to the evidence that optimal nutrition helps preserve cognitive function, slow the progression of aging and reduce the incidence of debilitating diseases in healthy aging populations."
Aspirin may slow emphysema progression
May 18 2015. The results of a study presented at the 2015 American Thoracic Society International Conference, held May 15-20, 2015 in Denver indicate a protective effect for aspirin use against the progression of emphysema.
"The pulmonary vasculature has been implicated in emphysema, and platelets are involved in many vascular diseases," write researcher Carrie P. Aaron, MD, of Columbia University Medical Center and her colleagues. "Aspirin reduces platelet activation; however, there is limited information on aspirin use and change in emphysema. We hypothesized that aspirin use would be associated with slower progression of percent emphysema on CT."
The MESA Lung Study involved 4,372 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, which enrolled men and women between the ages of 45 and 84 years between 2000 and 2002. Computed tomography (CT) scans assessed percent emphysema at the beginning of the study and at follow-up examinations over a ten year period. Spirometry was performed in 81% of the subjects five years after enrollment.
Twenty percent of the subjects reported using aspirin at the beginning of the study. "In our large general population sample, we found that regular aspirin use (three or more days per week) was associated with a slower progression of percent emphysema on computed tomography (CT) scans over 10 years," reported Dr Aaron. "Other than smoking cessation and avoidance, there are no known methods for reducing the risk of developing emphysema."
"Our study found that persons taking aspirin regularly had a slower progression of emphysema over 10 years compared to those who did not, and that this difference was not explained by many factors that we believe affect progression of emphysema", she noted. "The findings might suggest that regular aspirin use may slow the progression of subclinical emphysema, perhaps through effects on platelet activation or inflammation."
Study findings suggest lung-protective effect for vitamin E against effects of air pollution
May 15 2015. This month, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reported the findings of researchers from King's College London and the University of Nottingham of a greater decline in vitamin E levels among individuals whose lung function was impacted by air pollution.
The study involved 5,519 participants in the TwinsUK study who had undergone spirometry testing of lung function. Particulate matter exposure was estimated for a subset of 500 participants according to levels associated with the subjects' residential postal code. Blood samples were analyzed for 280 metabolites, which were correlated with exposure to particulate matter smaller than 10 and 2.5 microns.
The researchers uncovered an association between 13 metabolites and forced expiratory volume, which measures the amount of air that can be expelled in one exhalation. Eight of the metabolites were found to be significantly decreased with exposure to small particulate matter and low forced expiratory volume. These eight compounds included the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E and threonate, which is a metabolite of vitamin C. The strongest association with particles smaller than 2.5 microns and low forced expiratory volume was observed with vitamin E, which supports the hypothesis that the mechanism utilized by particulate matter to damage the lungs is oxidative attack, which vitamin E helps protect against.
"This is the first report of significant association between alpha-tocopherol levels and particulate matter 2.5 exposure in the general population," the authors announce.
"Our work builds on a number studies exploring whether some vitamins can counteract the negative effect on lungs caused by air pollution," commented coauthor Ana Valdes, of the University of Nottingham. "More work is needed to establish whether antioxidant supplements do indeed provide protection to the lungs in the general population."
Therapeutic program reverses cognitive decline
May 13 2015. The September 2014 issue of Aging contains an article by Dale E. Bredesen, MD, of the University of California, Los Angeles which reviews the effects of a multimodal personalized program designed for patients with Alzheimer's disease, amnestic mild cognitive impairment or subjective cognitive impairment. The program, which consists of the intake of a number of targeted nutrients, optimized hormone balance, exercise, a low glycemic diet, stress reduction, brain stimulation, sleep optimization and other factors, was found to benefit the ten subjects who took part in it, with the exception of one participant with late stage Alzheimer's disease.
Nutritional supplements administered over the course of the program included methylcobalamin, methyltetrahydrofolate, pyridoxal-5'-phosphate, TMG, prebiotics, probiotics, curcumin, ashwagandha, Bacopa monniera, magnesium threonate, vitamin D3, vitamin K2, acetyl-L-carnitine, citicholine, EPA/DHA, mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols; selenium, blueberries, N-acetylcysteine, ascorbate, alpha-lipoic acid, CoQ10, PQQ, resveratrol, thiamine, pantothenic acid. Of six participants whose cognitive impairment had impacted their ability to work, all were able to return to work or continue working at their jobs with improved performance after following the program.
"The positive results reported here are perhaps not surprising given that therapeutic programs have proven more effective than monotherapeutics in multiple chronic illnesses, such as atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, HIV, and cancer," notes Dr Bredesen, of UCLA's Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research. "Indeed, chronic illnesses may be more amenable to therapeutic systems than to monotherapeutics."
"The current, anecdotal results require a larger trial, not only to confirm or refute the results reported here, but also to address key questions raised, such as the degree of improvement that can be achieved routinely, how late in the course of cognitive decline reversal can be effected, whether such an approach may be effective in patients with familial Alzheimer’s disease, and how long improvement can be sustained," he concludes.
CoQ10 may reduce afib in heart failure patients
May 11 2015. An article appearing ahead of print on April 27, 2015 in the Journal of Investigative Medicine reports the outcome of a randomized trial of patients being treated for heart failure which found a benefit for coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in reducing atrial fibrillation, a common cardiac arrhythmia that occurs in up to 27% of heart failure patients.
The trial included 128 men and women treated for heart failure with ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, statins and/or other drugs. Sixty-two subjects received 30 milligrams CoQ10 daily for one year. Twenty-four hour ambulatory electrocardiogram monitoring, echocardiography, and blood measurement of inflammatory markers and malondialdehyde (MDA, a marker of oxidative stress) were performed upon enrollment and at six and twelve months.
At the end of the trial, three participants who received CoQ10 and 12 members of the control group had experienced atrial fibrillation episodes. Malondialdehyde levels were reduced at 12 months in the CoQ10 group while remaining unchanged among untreated patients.
"There is an increasing body of evidence linking inflammation and oxidative stress to a broad spectrum of cardiovascular conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, and hypertension," write Quingyan Zhao, MD, PhD, and colleagues. "In addition, there are emerging data to support the association between inflammation and atrial fibrillation. This has created exciting potential opportunities to target inflammatory and oxidative stress processes for the prevention of atrial fibrillation and heart failure."
"The present study suggests that CoQ10 as adjuvant treatment attenuates the incidence of atrial fibrillation," the authors conclude. "The mechanisms of the effect perhaps have relation with the reduced levels of MDA."
Link strengthened between greater magnesium, potassium intake and lower stroke risk
May 8 2015. The results of a large cohort study and updated meta-analyses, published on May 6, 2015 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, add evidence to a protective effect for magnesium and potassium against the risk of stroke in women.
For the prospective cohort study, Harvard researchers evaluated data from 86,149 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study I (NHS I) and 94,715 participants in the NHS II. Dietary questionnaires completed by NHS I participants in 1980, 1984, 1986 and every four years thereafter, and in 1991 and every four years thereafter in the NHS II were analyzed for the intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium from food and supplements. Over 30 years of NHS I follow-up and 22 years of NHS II follow up, 3,780 strokes occurred.
Among women whose intake of magnesium from food and supplements was among the highest 20% of all participants, the risk of stroke was 13% lower than subjects in the lowest 20%. For potassium, the risk was 11% lower among the top 20%. No significant association was observed between calcium intake and stroke risk. Among those whose combined intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium was among the top 20%, stroke risk was 19% less than the lowest group.
In the updated meta-analyses of the associations of dietary calcium, magnesium and potassium with stroke risk, the risk of total stroke was determined to decrease by 2% for a 300 milligram (mg) per day increase in calcium intake, by 13% for a 100 mg per day increase in magnesium and by 9% for a 1000 mg per day increase in potassium.
The authors conclude that their findings support recommendations of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial to Prevent Heart Disease, and Mediterranean diets, which promote greater intake of the minerals.
Mayo Clinic finds vitamin D toxicity rare
May 6 2015. The May 2015 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings reported the outcome of a retrospective population-based study that found little incidence of vitamin D toxicity among a large sampling of subjects over a ten year period.
For their study, family medicine expert Thomas D. Thacher and his associates utilized information obtained from the Rochester Epidemiology Project's database—a medical record linkage system of Olmsted County, Minnesota residents. Of 20,308 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] test results available, 1,714 that documented levels greater than 50 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) were included in the current investigation.
Among subjects with 25(OH)D test results that were greater than 50 ng/mL, there were only four cases that were temporarily associated with elevated serum calcium levels (an indicator of possible toxicity) within the three month period before and after testing. "We found that even in those with high levels of vitamin D over 50 ng/mL, there was not an increased risk of hypercalcemia, or elevated serum calcium, with increasing levels of vitamin D," stated Dr Thacher.
Another finding was a rise in the number of 25(OHD) test results that were higher than 50 ng/mL over the ten year period examined in the study. "We were surprised by that degree of dramatic increase in vitamin D levels," Dr Thacher remarked.
In an accompanying editorial, vitamin D authority Michael F. Hollick, PhD, MD, asks whether the slight increase in mortality associated with higher 25(OH)D levels by some research might be attributable to lingering effects of chronic deficiency that preceded treatment with vitamin D rather than to increased vitamin D levels.
"The evidence is clear that vitamin D toxicity is one of the rarest medical conditions and is typically due to intentional or inadvertent intake of extremely high doses of vitamin D," he concluded.
Review finds low vitamin D levels associated with worse surgical outcomes
May 4 2015. A systematic review described on April 30, 2015 in the journal Patient Safety in Surgery found significant evidence of an association between insufficient vitamin D levels and adverse outcomes after diverse surgical procedures.
Paul J. Iglar and Kirk J. Hogan of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health selected 31 studies relating to vitamin D and surgery that included a total of 16,195 subjects for their review. Of these, 26 reported at least one correlation between low perioperative vitamin D and an adverse postoperative outcome.
One study found an 8% higher risk of cancer following kidney transplantation in association with each nanogram per milliliter (ng/mL) reduction in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]. Another investigation uncovered a risk of delayed kidney graft failure that was eight times higher in those with vitamin D deficiency in comparison with nondeficient subjects. And in lung transplant recipients, those who were deficient in the near-transplant period and remained deficient after one year had a rate of dying that was nearly five times higher than recipients who were not deficient in vitamin D.
"We contend that learning whether it is safe to deviate far from ancestral levels of vitamin D in patients facing the trauma of surgery, and the demands of healing, is an overarching question, and that until this answer is in hand measurement and supplementation as indicated is preferred to the no-action approach of the status quo," the authors write.
"Future studies should focus on additional surgeries and outcomes, and on the role of vitamin D supplementation in the improvement of patient safety in participants with low vitamin D status at the time of surgery," they conclude.
Pancreatic cancer may be linked to insufficient vitamin D
May 1 2015. An article published online on April 30, 2015 in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology confirmed an association between increased latitude and greater cloud cover as risk factors for pancreatic cancer. Higher latitudes receive less ultraviolet light irradiance than latitudes nearer to the equator, which can result in insufficient vitamin D formation in the individuals who reside there. The study is the first to provide evidence of an association between pancreatic cancer and vitamin D insufficiency.
Using 2008 GLOBOCAN data from 107 countries, vitamin D researcher Cedric F. Garland, DrPH, and his colleagues at the University of California San Diego examined the association between cloud-adjusted ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiance and pancreatic cancer incidence rates. They found that the risk of cancer of the pancreas was six times greater among residents of countries with low UVB irradiance compared to countries with high irradiance, even after adjustment for other risk factors, including alcohol consumption, obesity and smoking. "While these other factors also contribute to risk, the strong inverse association with cloud-cover adjusted sunlight persisted even after they were accounted for," noted Dr Garland, who is an adjunct professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego.
"If you're living at a high latitude or in a place with a lot of heavy cloud cover, you can't make vitamin D most of the year, which results in a higher-than-normal risk of getting pancreatic cancer," he observed. "People who live in sunny countries near the equator have only one-sixth of the age-adjusted incidence rate of pancreatic cancer as those who live far from it. The importance of sunlight deficiency strongly suggests - but does not prove - that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to risk of pancreatic cancer."