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.
Study concludes no need for folate limit
January 31 2018. A study reported in Public Health Reviews on January 31, 2018 claims that the upper intake limit for folate of 1 milligram per day that is recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) is flawed and that there is no need to limit one’s intake of the vitamin.
By analyzing decades-old studies that involved vitamin B12-deficient individuals who had been treated with folic acid, the IOM (now the National Academy of Medicine) concluded that neurologic damage tended to occur more frequently in patients treated with higher folic acid doses, and that treating people with B12 deficiency with higher doses of folic acid might lead to an increased risk of neurologic damage. However, the new re-analysis of the data conducted by Sir Nicholas Wald and colleagues found no association between folic acid dose and neurologic damage and determined that the damage was caused by failure to treat B12 deficiency with vitamin B12. The team concluded that, like vitamins B1, B2, and B5, there is no need for an upper limit for folate. The research will help support recommendations in the UK to add folic acid to flour to help prevent neural tube defects.
"With the upper limit removed there is no scientific or medical reason for delaying the introduction of mandatory folic acid fortification in the UK and other countries that have not yet adopted this proven public health intervention,” commented Professor Wald, of Queen Mary University’s Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine. "Failing to fortify flour with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects is like having a polio vaccine and not using it. Every day in the UK, on average two women have a termination of pregnancy because of a neural tube defect and every week two women give birth to an affected child."
Curcumin benefits memory, mood in mild cognitive impairment
January 29 2018. A double-blind trial reported in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry revealed a positive effect on memory and mood for curcumin in people with mild, age-related cognitive decline.
The trial included 40 participants between the ages of 51 and 84 years who had mild memory complaints without dementia. Subjects received curcumin or a placebo twice per day for 18 months. Cognitive tests were administered at the beginning of the study and at six month intervals. Thirty participants received positron emission tomography (PET scans) at the beginning and end of the treatment period to assess the presence of brain amyloid and tau, which are increased in Alzheimer’s disease patients.
Participants who received curcumin had significant improvements in memory and attention at the end of 18 months, while subjects who received a placebo showed no effects. Memory tests revealed a 28% improvement in the curcumin group and PET scans showed less amyloid and tau in the amygdala and hypothalamus of the brain, which control memory and emotional functions, in comparison with participants who received a placebo.
According to authors Gary Small and colleagues, curcumin's benefits may result from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and other mechanisms. "Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer's disease and major depression," commented Dr Small, who is the director of geriatric psychiatry at the University of California Los Angeles’ Longevity Center and of the geriatric psychiatry division at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.
“These results warrant further study in similar populations to confirm the observed cognitive benefits of curcumin and elucidate the underlying mechanisms responsible for such effects,” the authors of the report conclude.
Vitamin D supplementation could ease IBS symptoms
January 26 2018. A review published on January 25, 2018 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition adds evidence to a beneficial effect for vitamin D against unpleasant symptoms and diminished quality of life experienced by individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a chronic, relapsing, functional bowel disorder whose cause is unknown. The syndrome is characterized by bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation. Stress and dietary factors have been observed to worsen symptoms.
"IBS is a poorly understood condition which impacts severely on the quality of life of sufferers,” noted lead researcher Dr Bernard Corfe of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Oncology and Metabolism. “There is no single known cause and likewise no single known cure."
In their review, Dr Corfe and his associates note that four observational studies and three randomized controlled trials have examined the effects of vitamin D in irritable bowel syndrome. All observational studies uncovered vitamin D deficiency in a substantial proportion of people with IBS. Two of the intervention studies found improvement in IBS symptom severity and quality of life in association with vitamin D supplementation. The findings suggest that low vitamin D is common in IBS patients and that vitamin D supplementation could help improve symptoms.
"The study provides an insight into the condition and, importantly, a new way to try to manage it,” Dr Corfe stated. "It is evident from the findings that all people with IBS should have their vitamin D levels tested and a large majority of them would benefit from supplements.”
PQQ could help prevent fatty liver
January 24 2018. An article appearing on January 22, 2018 in Hepatology Communications presents research findings that suggest a protective effect for pyrroloquinoline quinone, or PQQ, against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Pyrroloquinoline quinone is an antioxidant that naturally occurs in parsley, celery, kiwi and papaya, and is also available as an over-the-counter supplement.
"Fatty liver disease is the number one liver disease in the world," commented lead researcher Karen Jonscher, PhD, who is an associate professor of anesthesiology and a physicist at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. "It is now the leading cause of liver transplants, eclipsing hepatitis in many areas of the U.S."
"Increasingly, evidence suggests that exposure to maternal obesity creates an inflammatory environment in utero,” she observed. “This leads to long-lasting postnatal disruptions of the offspring's innate immune system and gut bacterial health, which may increase the risk for development of fatty liver disease."
Dr Jonscher had discovered that supplementation with PQQ helped reverse the harmful effect of a maternal Western-style diet in newborn mice that had liver mild liver disease. The current research revealed that giving PQQ to mothers also affects their offspring’s microbiome to prevent fatty liver disease from developing.
"Our results highlight the importance of the neonatal period as a critical developmental window to protect obese offspring from the harmful effects of diet-induced lipotoxicity and potentially halt the devastating trend of increasing pediatric NAFLD associated with childhood obesity," the authors concluded.
"There is a possibility that people with fatty liver disease could potentially benefit," Dr Jonscher suggested. "The supplement is available online and in grocery stores, but individuals should consult their doctors first before using it."
Melatonin supplementation associated with lower markers of cardiometabolic risk in diabetics
January 22 2018. A randomized, double-blind trial reported on December 12, 2017 in Clinical Nutrition resulted in a decrease in markers of oxidative stress and cardiometabolic risk among diabetics with heart disease who received melatonin.
“Given the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of melatonin, we hypothesized that melatonin might be beneficial in diabetic people with coronary heart disease,” write Fariba Raygan and colleagues at Kashan University of Medical Sciences in Iran.
The trial included 60 overweight men and women with diabetes and two to three coronary vessel heart disease. Participants received 10 milligrams melatonin or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. Markers of oxidative stress and inflammation, plasma glucose and insulin, cholesterol, blood pressure and other factors were measured at the beginning of the trial and at its conclusion.
At the end of the trial, subjects who received melatonin had a significant increase in plasma levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and the antioxidants glutathione and nitric oxide, accompanied by significant decreases in malondialdehyde and protein carbonyl (markers of oxidative stress), serum C-reactive protein (CRP, a marker of inflammation), fasting plasma glucose, insulin, insulin resistance, total to HDL cholesterol ratio, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, depression and anxiety compared with the placebo group.
“To our knowledge, this is the first report of melatonin intake on biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation, glycemic control, lipid profiles, blood pressures and parameters of mental health among diabetic people with coronary heart disease,” the authors announced. “A longer treatment or a supplementation with a higher dose of melatonin may affect total antioxidant capacity or other cardiometabolic markers.”
Inflammation-promoting foods associated with increased colorectal cancer risk
January 19 2018. An article appearing on January 18, 2018 in JAMA Oncology reports an association between the consumption of a proinflammatory diet, characterized by an increased intake of meat, refined grains and high-calorie beverages, with a greater risk of developing colorectal cancer during up to 26 years of follow-up.
The research included 46,804 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1986-2012 and 74,246 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study from 1984-2012. Questionnaires completed at the beginning of the studies and every two years thereafter were used to collect medical, lifestyle and other information. Food frequency questionnaires completed upon enrollment and at every 4 years provided dietary data that was scored for overall inflammatory potential based on the intake of 18 food groups.
During 24 years of follow-up, 1,258 cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed in men, and among women 1,441 cases developed during a 26-year follow-up period. Men whose empirical dietary inflammatory pattern (EDIP) score was among the top 20% of subjects had a 44% greater risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to those whose scores were among the lowest 20%. For women whose scores were among the top group, the risk was 22% greater. The risk appeared to be higher in overweight or obese men, lean women, and subjects who did not consume alcohol.
“Findings from this large prospective study support a role for the inflammatory potential of diet in colorectal cancer development, suggesting inflammation as a potential mechanism linking dietary patterns and colorectal cancer development,” Fred K. Tabung, MSPH, PhD, and colleagues concluded. “Strategies to reduce the adverse role of a proinflammatory dietary pattern in colorectal cancer development may have higher benefits among overweight or obese men and among lean women or among men and women not consuming alcohol.”
Fat, genes, drive prostate cancer metastasis
January 17 2018. Research reported on January 15, 2018 in Nature Genetics reveals roles for gene variations and a high fat diet in the promotion of prostate cancer metastasis. "Although it is widely postulated that a Western diet can promote prostate cancer progression, direct evidence supporting a strong association between dietary lipids and prostate cancer has been lacking," noted first author Ming Chen, PhD, of the laboratory of Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD.
The researchers found that the tumor suppressor gene PML, which is usually present in localized, nonmetastatic prostate tumors, is deleted in approximately a third of metastatic tumors, and that 20% of metastatic tumors lack both PML and another tumor suppressor gene, PTEN. Partial PTEN loss occurs in as many as 70% of primary prostate tumors, and complete loss has been associated with metastatic disease, however, in animal studies, loss of PTEN alone is insufficient to cause disease progression.
When nonmetastatic prostate tumors that lacked the PTEN gene were compared with metastatic tumors that lacked PTEN as well PML, Dr Pandolfi’s lab observed that the metastatic tumors produced large amounts of fats. "It was as though we'd found the tumors' lipogenic, or fat production, switch," Dr Pandolfi remarked. "The implication is, if there's a switch, maybe there's a drug with which we can block this switch and maybe we can prevent metastasis or even cure metastatic prostate cancer."
Using mice, the team found beneficial effects for a molecule under investigation for the treatment of obesity. "The obesity drug blocked the lipogenesis fantastically and the tumors regressed and didn't metastasize," Dr Pandolfi reported.
And while it has been difficult to model metastatic prostate cancer in mice, mice lacking PTEN that had nonmetastatic disease developed metastatic tumors when given a high saturated fat diet rather than their usual low fat chow. The findings suggest a benefit for a low fat diet or drug therapy for humans whose tumors lack the suppressor genes.
"The progression of cancer to the metastatic stage represents a pivotal event that influences patient outcomes and the therapeutic options available to patients," Dr Pandolfi stated. "Our data provide a strong genetic foundation for the mechanisms underlying metastatic progression, and we also demonstrated how environmental factors can boost these mechanisms to promote progression from primary to advanced metastatic cancer."
"The data are tremendously actionable, and they surely will convince you to change your lifestyle," he added.
Umbrella review of meta-analysis concludes multiple benefits for Mediterranean diet
January 15 2018. An umbrella review (a meta-analysis of meta-analyses) of studies that investigated the benefits of a Mediterranean eating pattern adds evidence to a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, heart attack, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes in association with greater adherence to the diet.
“To the best of our knowledge, no attempts of reviewing the existing literature through an umbrella review in this issue has been conducted,” note authors M. Dinu and colleagues at the University of Florence, Italy.
A Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, fish and olive oil, moderate alcohol consumption, and a lower intake of red meat and butter. The results of the review were reported in the January 2018 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Dr Dinu and colleagues selected 13 meta-analyses of observational studies and 16 meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials that investigated the effects of a Mediterranean diet on 37 health outcomes among a total of over 12,827,449 subjects. Associations were confirmed between greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, heart attack, overall cancer incidence and cancer mortality, overall cancer incidence, breast cancer, neurodegenerative disease, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, diabetes and overall mortality over follow-up. The researchers also uncovered suggestive evidence supporting the value of the diet in lowering total cholesterol and increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.“This umbrella review provides a comprehensive resume of the published meta-analyses in relation to the Mediterranean diet and health outcomes, and maps the status of evidence,” the authors conclude.
Mediterranean diet associated with lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer
Beatriz Perez-Gomez, PhD, and colleagues evaluated data from 754 men with prostate cancer and 1,277 controls who participated in the Multicase-Control study on Common Tumors in Spain, conducted from September 2008 to December 2013. Dietary intake data identified Western (characterized by the consumption of large amounts of fatty dairy products, refined grains, processed meat, caloric beverages, sweets, fast food, and sauces); prudent (which combines vegetables and fruit with low fat dairy products, whole grains and juices) and Mediterranean dietary patterns.
Among subjects whose adherence to a Mediterranean diet (which included fish, boiled potatoes, whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, and olive oil, and low consumption of juices) was among the top 25% of participants, the risk of aggressive prostate cancer was 32% lower than those whose adherence was among the lowest quarter. Participants whose adherence was among the second highest 25% experienced a similar reduction. The risk of having a higher clinical prostate cancer stage among participants whose Mediterranean diet adherence was among the highest 25% was half that of subjects whose adherence was lowest. Prudent and Western patterns had no relationship with prostate cancer risk.
"This study adds important evidence to the scarce information regarding the association of diet with prostate cancer, and highlights the relevance of focusing on global dietary patterns," Dr Perez-Gomez commented. "Our results show that a diet oriented towards the prevention of aggressive tumors in the prostate should probably include important elements of the Mediterranean diet such as fish, legumes, and olive oil, and suggest that a high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains might not be enough."
Meta-analysis adds evidence to association between omega-3 supplementation and lower heart rate
January 10 2018. On December 28, 2017 the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a meta-analysis that affirmed an association between supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids and a decrease in heart rate. According to authors Khemayanto Hidayat of Soochow University and colleagues, elevated resting heart rate has emerged as a risk factor for cardiovascular mortality and all-cause mortality.
Dr Hidayat and associates selected 51 randomized controlled trials that included a total of approximately 3,000 men and women for their analysis. Thirty-two of the intervention groups consisted of participants with at least one chronic condition, including coronary artery disease, kidney failure, hypertension and frequent premature ventricular contraction (a type of heart arrhythmia).
In comparison with those who received a placebo, participants who received omega 3 experienced a significant reduction in heart rate of 2.23 beats per minute. When the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA were administered separately, a 2.47 beat per minute decrease was observed in association with DHA.
“The heart rate of the majority of participants included in this meta-analysis was within normal range—the state where reducing heart rate is conventionally not a medical indication,” the authors note. “At the population level however, such heart rate reduction may have significant public health implications, as a reduction of 3.2 beats per minute heart rate would roughly correspond to 7.5% lower risk of sudden cardiac death.”
“This present meta-analysis can have valuable public health and clinical implications for incorporation of omega 3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation as a lifestyle modification for reducing all-cause mortality among general populations, and for reducing the risk of sudden cardiac death, particularly in those who do not consume enough fatty fish on a regular basis,” they conclude.
Prenatal folic acid, multivitamin use by women associated with lower autism risk in their children
January 08 2018. An article appearing on January 3, 2018 in JAMA Psychiatry reports a decrease in the risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) among children born to women who supplemented with folic acid and/or multivitamins before and during pregnancy in comparison with children whose mothers did not use the supplements.
The case-control study included 45,300 children born during 2003-2007 who were followed up to 2015. Health care registers provided information concerning multivitamins and folic acid dispensed to the mothers and ASD diagnoses among their children.
Of the children included in the study, 1.3% received autism diagnoses. Women who used folic acid and/or multivitamin supplements prior to their pregnancies had a 61% lower risk of their children developing an ASD compared to women who did not use the supplements. For women who used folic acid and/or multivitamin supplements during pregnancy, the risk was 73% lower.
When the use of folic acid was examined separately, the risk having a child diagnosed with autism was 44% lower among children of women who supplemented with the vitamin before pregnancy, and 68% lower among children born to women who used folic acid during pregnancy. Multivitamin use before and during pregnancy was associated with a respective 64% and 65% reduction.
“Unique to our study, to our knowledge, is the ability to examine the association between multivitamin exposure and ASD for an extended period preceding pregnancy,” Stephen Z. Levine, PhD, and colleagues write. “Maternal exposure to folic acid and multivitamin supplements 2 years before pregnancy was associated with a reduced risk of ASD in offspring.”
“Reduced risk of ASD in offspring is a consideration for public health policy that may be realized by extended use of folic acid and multivitamin supplements during pregnancy,” they conclude.
Higher dose vitamin D associated with decreased arterial stiffness
January 05 2018. On December 7, 2017 in PLOS ONE, researchers from Augusta University reported their finding of improvement in arterial stiffness among men and women who received 2000 or 4000 IU of vitamin D for 4 months. Greater arterial stiffness is an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular mortality.
"When your arteries are more stiff, you have higher pulse wave velocity, which increases your risk of cardiometabolic disease in the future," explained lead author Anas Raed. "We think maybe in the future, when you go to your physician, he or she might check your arterial stiffness as another indicator of how healthy you are."
The trial included 70 overweight African-Americans who had arterial stiffness. Participants received a placebo or monthly supplementation with vitamin D3 that provided the equivalent of 600 IU, 2,000 IU or 4,000 IU per day for 16 weeks. Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity and carotid-radial pulse wave velocity were assessed at the beginning of the study and at its conclusion.
Pulse wave velocity measurements declined from values obtained before treatment with the two higher vitamin D doses, with the greatest benefit associated with the 4,000 IU dose. Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity decreased by 10.4% and carotid-radial velocity by 8% at the end of the study among those who received 4,000 IU vitamin D, while the placebo group experienced an increase in both measurements.
“To our knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial regarding dose-ranging vitamin D supplementation on measures of arterial stiffness in overweight African-Americans with vitamin D deficiency,” the authors announced.
They note that vitamin D supplementation is inexpensive and safe, and recommend larger trials in which participants can be followed for longer periods. "A year would give us even more data and ideas," Dr Raed noted.
Vitamin C boosts tuberculosis therapy
January 03 2018. An article appearing in in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy reveals a benefit for the addition of vitamin C to first-line treatments for tuberculosis (TB) in experiments that utilized mice infected with the disease. While drug therapy is effective, treatment of drug susceptible tuberculosis takes six months, which, according to lead researcher William R. Jacobs, Jr, PhD, of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Einstein College of Medicine, can result “in some treatment mismanagement, potentially leading to the emergence and spread of drug-resistant TB.”
Dr Jacobs and his associates tested the effects of isoniazid and rifampicin, vitamin C, or the drugs plus vitamin C in Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected mice. At four and six weeks, Mycobacterium tuberculosis organ burdens were assessed.
While vitamin C alone had no activity, adding it to the drugs decreased the time needed to reduce Mycobacterium tuberculosis organ burdens compared to drug treatment alone. A treatment-accelerating effect was also observed when vitamin C was added to tuberculosis-infected cell cultures. "Our study shows that the addition of vitamin C to TB drug treatment potentiates the killing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and could shorten TB chemotherapy," Dr Jacobs reported.
Earlier research found that lower doses of vitamin C stimulate respiration which, in the presence of tuberculosis drugs, leads to the cells’ rapid demise. "Thus, in our new paper, we postulate that vitamin C is stimulating respiration of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis cells in mice, thus enabling the action of isoniazid and rifampicin," Dr Jacobs stated.
"Vitamin C is known to be safe and our current mouse studies suggest that vitamin C could enhance TB chemotherapy," he concluded. "A clinical trial of vitamin C with TB chemotherapies could demonstrate that such an adjunct therapy could reduce patients' exposure to toxic TB drugs and also reduce the spread of TB from infected individuals."