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.
Higher omega-3 levels associated with decreased heart attack death risk
June 29 2016. A pooled analysis reported in the August 2016 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine uncovered an association between higher blood levels of omega 3 fatty acids and a lower risk of mortality from heart attack.
The Fatty acids and Outcomes Research Consortium (FORCE) led by Liana C. Del Gobbo, PhD, pooled the findings of 19 published studies that reported omega levels and coronary heart disease events. The studies included a total of 45,637 men and women, among whom there were 2,781 heart attack fatalities and 7,157 nonfatal heart attacks.
Subjects whose levels of the plant-based omega 3 alpha linolenic acid (ALA) was among the top 20% of subjects had an 18% lower risk of fatal heart disease than those whose intake was among the lowest 20%. For eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the risks were 8%, 24% and 23% lower for those among the top fifth. In addition, having an EPA level among the highest 20% of subjects was associated with a 29% lower risk of nonfatal heart attack.
"These new results, including many studies which previously had not reported their findings, provide the most comprehensive picture to-date of how omega-3s may influence heart disease," announced Dr Del Gobbo, who is a postdoctoral research fellow in the division of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine."
"Our results lend support to the importance of fish and omega-3 consumption as part of a healthy diet," stated senior author Dairush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH. "Most prior studies of dietary fats have relied on self-reported estimates of intake. This new global consortium provides an unprecedented opportunity to understand how blood biomarkers of many different fats and fatty acids relate to diverse health outcomes, and many additional investigations are in progress."
CoQ10 levels lower in multiple system atrophy patients
June 27 2016. An article published on June 27, 2016 in JAMA Neurology reveals the finding of lower levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) among men and women with multiple system atrophy (MSA) in comparison with a control group. Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by symptoms that affect movement as well as involuntary activity, such as digestion.
Acting on the recent discovery of an association between MSA and a variation in the COQ2 gene that encodes an enzyme involved in the body's production of CoQ10, researchers at the University of Tokyo compared plasma CoQ10 levels of 44 patients with MSA to 39 control subjects. Analysis of plasma samples for COQ2 mutations found the cerebellar genetic variant of MSA in 26 subjects and the parkinsonian variant among 18.
Multiple system atrophy patients had an average CoQ10 level of 0.51 micrograms per milliliter (mcg/mL), in comparison with 0.72 mcg/mL among the control group. Among patients with the cerebellar variant, levels averaged 0.58 mcg/mL and in those with the parkinsonian variant, levels were 0.49 mcg/mL. The authors remark that the finding supports the hypothesis that CoQ10 insufficiency plays a role in the development of MSA.
In an accompanying editorial, Sheng-Han Kuo, MD, and Catarina Quinzii, MD, suggest that the inability of CoQ10 supplementation to improve symptoms in two trials of patients with neurologic disorders could be due to the lower bioavailability of the form of CoQ10 used. They additionally emphasize that high doses of 1,200 to 2,400 milligrams per day are needed to reach the brain.
"Our data showed decreased levels of plasma CoQ10 in patients with MSA regardless of the COQ2 genotype, supporting a hypothesis that supplementation with CoQ10 is beneficial for patients with MSA," the authors of the current study conclude.
Omega 3 supplementation associated with reduced length of hospital stay in heart surgery patients
June 24 2016. An updated review and meta-analysis appearing on May 27, 2016 in the journal Clinical Nutrition affirmed a decreased length of hospital stay and a lower risk of postoperative atrial fibrillation in cardiac surgery patients who supplemented with omega 3 fatty acids.
Pascal L. Langlois of Sherbrooke University Hospital in Québec and colleagues selected 19 randomized clinical trials that included a total of 4,335 patients for their analysis. Supplements included varying combinations of the omega 3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), with or without other nutrients.
Analysis of trials that had adequate data concerning length of hospital stay found a 1.37 day reduction in association with omega 3 fatty acid supplementation. Postoperative atrial fibrillation, which is a known risk following cardiac surgery, was determined to be 22% lower in omega 3 supplemented patients.
"Systemic inflammation due to ischemia-reperfusion, oxidative stress and, when extra-corporeal circulation is used, blood contact with nonendothelial surfaces, is a key feature in patients after cardiac surgery," the authors observe. "In this context, the administration of omega 3 PUFA as a pharmaconutrient strategy represents a promising and attractive therapeutic option."
"This updated systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrates that omega 3 PUFA administered to patients undergoing cardiac surgery may be able to significantly reduce hospital length of stay and the incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation," they conclude. "Large-scale and well-designed randomized clinical trials, which should be aimed at confirming our observations, are warranted."
N-acetylcysteine shows promise in Parkinson's disease
June 22 2016. A report published on June 16, 2016 in the journal PLOS ONE reveals a potential benefit for the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a derivative of the amino acid L-cysteine, in Parkinson's disease patients.
Daniel A. Monti, MD, MBA, of Thomas Jefferson University and colleagues studied the effects of NAC in an in vitro model of Parkinson's disease. Midbrain dopamine neurons treated with a pesticide linked to Parkinson's were exposed to NAC while other cells received no exposure. Neurons treated with NAC survived longer, which is consistent with previously observed protective effects associated with the compound.
In a clinical study, Parkinson's disease patients received their current standard treatment plus 50 milligrams (mg) per kilogram intravenous NAC one day per week for three months, and 600 mg NAC orally twice daily on the remaining days of the week. A control group received only their standard care for the disease. Disease stage was assessed before and after the treatment period and brain scans measured dopamine transporter binding, which declines in Parkinson's disease, in the brain's basal ganglia.
Participants who received NAC had a 4.4% to 7.8% increase in dopamine transporter binding while no measurable changes occurred in the control group. In addition, NAC-treated participants experienced a 12.9% average improvement in disease stage. "We have not previously seen an intervention for Parkinson's disease have this kind of effect on the brain," announced first author Andrew Newberg, MD, who is a professor at Thomas Jefferson University's Sidney Kimmel Medical College and Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine.
"This study reveals a potentially new avenue for managing Parkinson's patients and shows that N-acetylcysteine may have a unique physiological effect that alters the disease process and enables dopamine neurons to recover some function," Dr Monti concluded.
Prostate cancer patients who consume nuts have lower mortality risk
For their research, a team led by Ying Bao, MD, ScD, of the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School evaluated data from 47,299 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Dietary data that was updated every four years over the course of the study provided information on the quantity of nuts consumed, which included almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.
Over a twenty-six year period, 6,810 cases of prostate cancer were identified. Prostate cancer patients who consumed nuts at least five times per week following their diagnosis had a 34% lower risk of mortality over the course of follow-up compared with men who consumed nuts less than once per month.
Nuts provide unsaturated fats, high quality protein, vitamin E, folate, niacin, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phytochemicals, which have cardioprotective, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, all of which could impact mortality risk over a given period. In addition to being associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mortality over time, tree nut consumption has been associated with improvement in insulin sensitivity. Research suggests that insulin resistance is involved in the risk of prostate cancer and progression of the disease.
While nut intake was not found to be associated with the risk of mortality from prostate cancer, the authors concluded that "Frequent nut consumption after diagnosis was associated with significantly reduced overall mortality."
"This is important," noted Dr Bao, "since more men live with prostate cancer than die from it."
Melatonin could reduce tamoxifen requirement in breast cancer patients
June 17 2016. The September 1, 2016 issue of Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces published the finding of researchers at Iran's Tabriz University of Medical Sciences of an ability for the hormone melatonin to improve the effectiveness of tamoxifen, a drug used to treat breast cancer. The discovery could help lower the dose of tamoxifen needed to effectively treat the disease.
The study evaluated the effects of nanostructured lipid carriers loaded with melatonin in an estrogen and progesterone receptor positive breast cancer cell line. The carriers were used to ensure a slow release of melatonin, which normally has a short life in the body. While melatonin alone reduced cell proliferation by an average of 15%, the hormone added to tamoxifen resulted in doubling of the percentage of cells that underwent apoptosis (programmed cell death).
Combining melatonin with tamoxifen could help avoid some of the potentially serious side effects related to tamoxifen therapy by enabling the administration of a lower dose. Lower doses of tamoxifen could also help delay the development of treatment resistance. "We tried to solve both issues by putting melatonin into nanostructures so they can help the chemotherapeutic agent kill more cells," explained corresponding author Dr. Nasser Samadi, from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences. "By doing this, you can decrease the dose of tamoxifen needed, reducing the severity of the side effects."
"Lots of nanostructures these days are toxic to the body or to other cells, but we found no significant toxicity in the empty nanostructured lipid carriers," he noted. "The characteristics are very suitable for applying to these kinds of treatments."
Dr Samadi and colleagues plan to test nanostructured lipid carriers in other types of cancer prior to evaluating their effects in animals and humans.
Zinc essential for proper digestion
June 15 2016. Research described on May 27, 2016 in the British Journal of Nutrition reveals a critical role for zinc in digestion and suggests that even short-term subclinical deficiency have an impact.
While some foods, such as beef, oysters and egg yolks are good sources of zinc, many individuals are at risk of zinc insufficiency.
Daniel Brugger and Wilhelm M. Windisch of the Technical University of Munich gave weaned piglets a diet that contained an adequate amount of zinc for two weeks, followed by an eight day period in which the animals received diets that contained varying amounts of zinc intended to produce early stage zinc deficiency. Pancreatic zinc and digestive enzyme levels measured before and during the intervention decreased in association with lower zinc intake. Impaired fecal digestibility was observed after just one week of insufficient zinc intake, before clinical deficiency symptoms would normally manifest. The current study and others demonstrate the necessity of zinc to the pancreas to ensure proper digestion.
In previous research, it has been observed that clinical zinc deficiency reduces appetite. To explain the phenomenon, "various hypotheses were derived, for example, that zinc deficiency had a direct impact on the vagus nerve," according to Dr Brugger. "The real reason, however, may be much simpler: the accumulation of undigested food inside the gastrointestinal tract due to zinc deficiency results in feeling less hungry."
"We proved that there is a direct correlation between the amount of digestive enzymes inside the pancreas and zinc levels in the organism as a whole," Dr Brugger stated. "Even short intervals of zinc deficiency in the diet should therefore be avoided. Given the similarities between a pig's organism and the human organism, we may draw the following conclusion when applying our results to the human body: an egg or two more once in a while can do no harm."
Migraine associated with nutritional deficiencies
June 13 2016. A study reported on June 10, 2016 at the 58th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society, held in San Diego, found deficiencies of several nutrients in a young population with migraine headaches.
In their poster presentation, Suzanne Hagler, MD, of the University of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and colleagues note than a reduction in migraine has been observed or suspected in association with increased levels several nutritional compounds. The current study examined data from children, teenagers and young adults who had undergone blood testing for riboflavin, folate, vitamin D and CoQ10. A small percentage of the subjects were subsequently treated with nutritional supplements, if levels were found to be low.
Ninety-one percent of the subjects had vitamin D levels of 40 ng/mL or less and 83% had CoQ10 concentrations of 0.7 mcg/mL or less—levels at which the researchers indicated that supplementation is recommended. Dr Hagler's team discovered a greater likeliness of vitamin D deficiency in boys and young men with migraine and an increase in CoQ10 deficiencies among girls and young women with the condition. Chronic migraine patients were likelier to be deficient in riboflavin and CoQ10 than subjects with sporadic migraine.
Due to the fact that few of the patients received supplements to treat their deficiencies, the researchers could not evaluate their effectiveness in migraine prevention.
"Vitamin deficiencies may be implicated in the perpetuation of migraines, but the relationships are still poorly understood," Dr Hagler and colleagues conclude. "Further studies are needed to elucidate whether vitamin supplementation is effective in migraine patients in general, and whether patients with mild deficiency are more likely to benefit from supplementation."
Coffee drinkers have longer telomeres
June 10 2016. The July 2016 issue of the Journal of Nutrition revealed that women who drink more coffee have longer white blood cell telomeres: protective caps at the end of chromosomes whose length is considered to be a biomarker of aging. Shorter telomeres have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions.
"Few studies, to our knowledge, have examined the association between coffee consumption and telomere length," noted authors Jason J. Liu of the National Cancer Institute and his colleagues in their introduction to the article.
The study included 4,780 participants in the Nurses' Health Study, which enrolled 121,700 female nurses beginning in 1976. The current investigation was limited to 4,780 women with available data concerning coffee and caffeine intake and white blood cell telomere measurement.
In comparison with subjects who reported no coffee intake, women who consumed two to less than three cups coffee per day had a 29% higher chance of having average telomere length that was above the median of the group. For those who drank three cups or more daily, the odds were 36% higher. When decaffeinated and regular coffee were separately examined, only regular coffee's effects were found to be significant. However, analysis of the association between caffeine from all dietary sources and telomere length suggests that compounds other than caffeine may be responsible for the association.
"Future studies can provide mechanistic understanding by examining how specific compounds in coffee are involved in telomere maintenance," the authors conclude. "Understanding coffee's effect on telomeres may help us discover new pathways by which coffee consumption influences health and longevity."
CoQ10 supplementation associated with lower pro-inflammatory factors in randomized trial
June 8 2016. A double-blind trial reported in a recent issue of the International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research found a reduction in markers of inflammation in mildly hypertensive patients given coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for twelve weeks. Participants who received CoQ10 also experienced an increase in adiponectin: a protein secreted by adipose tissue that has an anti-inflammatory effect and which has been found to be reduced in high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
"Considering that coenzyme Q10 has attracted noticeable attention in recent years for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension in regard to its effect on inflammatory factors such as cytokines, it is therefore hypothesized that supplementation with coenzyme Q10 reduces the proinflammatory factors," write Nasim Bagheri Nesami of Iran's Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences and colleagues. "This study was conducted in order to determine the effects of coenzyme Q10 on proinflammatory factors as well as on adiponectin in patients with mild hypertension."
Sixty men and women were randomized to receive 100 milligrams CoQ10 or a placebo for a twelve week period. Plasma adiponectin, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP, a marker of inflammation) and the cytokines interleukin 2, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha were measured before and after treatment.
At the end of the study, participants who received CoQ10 had significant declines in interleukin-6 and hs-CRP compared with levels measured upon enrollment. They also experienced an increase in adiponectin, while levels in the placebo group slightly declined.
The authors suggest that CoQ10 could be prescribed as a supplement along with antihypertensive medication for patients with mildly elevated blood pressure, and recommend that further research be conducted to validate the current findings.
There's something to be said for fiber
June 6 2016. While many of us associate fiber supplements with something consumed by elderly people to stay "regular," a recent study has revealed that--more than carbohydrates, glycemic index, glycemic load and sugar--fiber is one factor that makes a difference in successfully aging.
In a study published on June 1, 2016 in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, researchers from The Westmead Institute for Medical Research evaluated data from 1,609 adults aged 49 years and older who participated in the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Responses to dietary questionnaires completed upon enrollment were analyzed for carbohydrate, sugar and fiber content, and glycemic index and load. Successful aging was defined as the absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms and chronic diseases.
A decade later, 249 subjects were determined to have aged successfully. Participants whose fiber intake was among the top 25% had a 79% greater chance of aging successfully compared with those in the lowest 25%.
"Out of all the variables that we looked at, fiber intake -- which is a type of carbohydrate that the body can't digest -- had the strongest influence," commented lead author Bamini Gopinath, PhD, of The Westmead Institute's Centre for Vision Research. "Essentially, we found that those who had the highest intake of fiber or total fiber actually had an almost 80 percent greater likelihood of living a long and healthy life over a 10-year follow-up. That is, they were less likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, dementia, depression, and functional disability."
"There are a lot of other large cohort studies that could pursue this further and see if they can find similar associations," she added. "And it would also be interesting to tease out the mechanisms that are actually linking these variables."
Vitamin-mineral supplement prevents brain cell loss in recent research
June 3 2016. A study reported on May 20, 2016 in Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis describes a significant benefit for supplementation with 31 nutrients in a transgenic mouse model of accelerated aging.
"The findings are dramatic," stated lead author Jennifer A. Lemon, who is a research associate in the Department of Biology at McMaster University. "Our hope is that this supplement could offset some very serious illnesses and ultimately improve quality of life."
Dr Lemon and her colleagues gave transgenic and normal mice a daily supplement that contained vitamins B1, B3, B6, B12, C, D and E; acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, aspirin, beta-carotene, bioflavonoids, chromium picolinate, cod liver oil, CoQ10, DHEA, flax seed oil, folic acid, garlic, ginger, Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, green tea, L-glutathione, magnesium, melatonin, N-acetylcysteine, potassium, rutin, selenium and zinc. Animals received the supplement from the time of weaning throughout their lifespan. Untreated transgenic and normal mice served as controls.
Transgenic mice treated with the supplement failed to undergo the loss of brain cells and cognitive decline experienced by older untreated transgenic animals. They also had a better sense of smell and vision accompanied by an increase in photoreceptor cells. "The extent of functional benefits attained by our multi-ingredient dietary supplement here and in earlier studies strongly suggests that aging animals retain the capacity to support youthful phenotypes and that powerful impacts can be achieved through multi-ingredient dietary supplementation that addresses the multifactorial nature of aging organisms," the authors conclude.
"The research suggests that there is tremendous potential with this supplement to help people who are suffering from some catastrophic neurological diseases," Dr Lemon commented. "We know this because mice experience the same basic cell mechanisms that contribute to neurodegeneration that humans do. All species, in fact. There is a commonality among us all."
Nicotinamide riboside may help prevent diabetic complications
June 1 2016. If research findings in mice are any indication, the vitamin nicotinamide riboside could help protect against complications of diabetes and prediabetes.
Charles Brenner, PhD, of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and colleagues describe their findings in an article appearing on May 27, 2016 in Scientific Reports. The 21-week study included control mice given a normal diet with or without nicotinamide riboside supplementation, prediabetic mice on a high fat diet with or without nicotinamide riboside, and type 2 diabetic mice on a high fat diet with or without the supplement. (Nicotinamide riboside was administered during the final eight weeks of the study.)
In addition to being protected from weight gain from consuming a high fat diet, prediabetic and type 2 diabetic mice given nicotinamide riboside also experienced reduced fatty liver, liver damage, elevated blood glucose and peripheral neuropathy, which are all common complications of diabetes.
"There is a real fascination right now in the world of personalized nutrition, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical research to find strategies to boost NAD+ levels," commented Dr Brenner, who is a professor and Roy J. Carver Chair of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. "Nicotinamide riboside has emerged as the lead molecule to elevate NAD+ metabolites."
"NAD+ metabolomics shows that NAD+ itself goes down in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, but it is not depressed as strikingly as two other metabolites: NADP+ and NADPH," Dr Brenner noted. "When we supplement with nicotinamide riboside, the NAD+ bounces back but the NADP+ and NADPH levels don't fully recover, suggesting that the disease process specifically targets these metabolites, which are required for natural resistance to reactive oxygen species. These results are consistent with research showing that the development of insulin-insensitivity is related to reactive oxygen species damage and that nicotinamide riboside boosts the body's natural antioxidant defenses."