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.
Review suggests nutraceuticals as "cutting edge answer" to arthritis
November 30, 2018. A review appearing in the November 18, 2018 issue of the World Journal of Orthopedics summarizes evidence in support of nutritional supplements in the treatment of osteoarthritis. According to the authors, 47% of those who have osteoarthritis use complementary medicines that include nutraceuticals, which have gained popularity due to their easy availability.
“The chronic nature of osteoarthritis implies the use of pharmacological compounds with proven long-term safety, especially because current treatments like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics improve pain relief but have no effect on degenerative progression and can also cause serious side effects,” they note.
While many foods and supplements may be helpful, the review focused on olive oil, vitamin D, curcumin, sanguinarine, and carnosic acid, a compound occurring in sage and rosemary.
Olive oil decreases pro-inflammatory cytokine release and increases the synthesis of lubricin, a protein that lubricates joint cartilage. Olive leaf extract has been shown to stimulate the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, which also is involved in joint lubrication.
Curcumin not only has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, but its metabolite tetrahydrocurcumin may improve glucose tolerance, thereby lowering the formation of damaging advanced glycation end products.
Vitamin D has been found to be diminished in the serum of osteoarthritis patients. Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency is involved in the development of the disease.
Sanguinarine from Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot), was shown in experimental research to slow the progression of osteoarthritis induced in mice.
Carnosic acid induces upregulation of heme oxygenase-1, whose expression has been associated with cartilage preservation. For this reason, rosemary extract may be helpful.
“These molecules, considered as natural dietary supplements, appear like a cutting-edge answer to this tough health problem,” the authors remark.
“It is worth noting that a common positive element of all these molecules is their availability in nature, which represents a huge advantage for food and pharmaceutical industries, and their low side effects, allowing for a broad range of safe uses for the derived products,” they concluded.
More antioxidants in diet and body equal lower risk of mortality during up to three decades of follow-up
November 28, 2018. A meta-analysis reported in the November 2018 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that consuming more carotenoids and vitamins C and E, and/or having higher levels of these antioxidants in the blood was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer or all-cause mortality during follow-up periods that ranged from 2.1 to 32 years.
“Whether or not blood concentrations of different types of antioxidants are associated with risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, and mortality is not and has not previously been comprehensively evaluated across multiple exposures and outcomes in a meta-analysis,” note Dagfinn Aune and colleagues in their introduction to the article.
The researchers selected 69 prospective studies for the meta-analysis. For every 100 milligram per day increase in dietary vitamin C, they calculated a 12% lower risk of coronary heart disease, an 8% lower risk of stroke, a 7% lower risk of cancer, and 11% lower risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality from any cause during follow-up. For each 50 micromole per liter increase in blood levels of the vitamin, the risk of coronary heart disease was 26% lower, the risk of stroke was 30% lower, cardiovascular disease risk was 24% lower, cancer risk was 26% lower, and mortality during follow-up was reduced by 28%. Dietary intake and/or blood levels of the carotenoids, including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and lycopene were similarly associated with risk reductions.
Higher blood levels of vitamin E were associated with decreased risks of stroke, cancer and all-cause mortality.
“These results support the notion that a high intake of fruits and vegetables, especially those high in vitamin C and carotenoids, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature mortality,” the authors conclude.
Vegetables, orange juice support memory in men
November 26, 2018. On November 21, 2018, the journal Neurology® published the finding of Harvard researchers of an association between consuming more vegetables and orange juice intake and improved maintenance of cognitive function in a study of male health professionals.
The study included 27,842 men whose age averaged 51 years in 1986. Dietary questionnaires completed at the beginning of the study and every four years until 2002 provided information concerning fruit and vegetable intake. Subjective cognitive function was assessed by questionnaires administered in 2008 and 2012. Fifty-five percent of the participants were considered to have good cognitive function, 38% had moderate function, and 7% had poor function.
Men whose vegetable intake was among the top 20% of participants at approximately six servings per day had a 17% lower risk of moderate cognitive function and a 34% lower risk of poor cognitive function than those whose intake was among the lowest 20% at about two servings daily. Drinking orange juice on a daily basis was associated with a 47% lower risk of developing poor cognitive function compared to consuming less than one serving per month. A higher intake of vegetables and fruit 18-22 years prior to assessment of subjective cognitive function was associated with reduced risk of poor function, regardless of recent intake.
"One of the most important factors in this study is that we were able to research and track such a large group of men over a 20-year period of time, allowing for very telling results," commented first author Changzheng Yuan, ScD, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. "Our studies provide further evidence dietary choices can be important to maintain your brain health."
Antioxidants could help protect against damaging effects of hypoglycemia
November 22, 2018. Episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) are a common occurrence among diabetics treated with insulin. Repeated episodes are associated with cognitive impairment which can worsen over time. Research presented at the Society for Endocrinology's annual conference held during November 2018 in Glasgow suggests a protective effect for antioxidants against damage to the brain caused by low glucose.
"Low blood sugar is an almost unavoidable consequence of insulin therapy," observed Dr. Alison McNeilly of the University of Dundee. "This work demonstrates that by improving the body's own antioxidant defense system we can reverse some of the side effects associated with diabetes, such as poor cognitive function."
Previous research conducted by Dr. McNeilly and colleagues found that low blood sugar results in increased oxidative stress in the brain due to free radicals. In the current study, insulin was used to induce low glucose levels three times weekly for four weeks in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes. One group of mice received sulforaphane, an antioxidant found in broccoli and other vegetables, 24 hours before each low blood glucose episode.
Treatment with sulforaphane resulted in significantly lower levels of hemoglobin A1c, a marker of long-term glucose control. Animals that received the compound experienced an increase in antioxidant markers, less free radical damage, and better memory compared to those that were not treated with sulforaphane. "The concentration of sulforaphane used in this study would not be attainable in a normal diet rich in vegetables," Dr. McNeilly noted. "However, there are numerous highly potent compounds in clinical trials which may prevent cognitive impairments caused by free radicals to help diabetes patients."
"Activation of antioxidant pathways offer a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of cognitive impairments associated with reactive hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes," the authors conclude.
High carb diet good for older brains?
November 21, 2018. Research published in the November 20, 2018 issue of Cell Reports suggests a potential benefit for a diet low in protein and high in complex carbohydrates in older individuals.
Acting on the findings of a study conducted in 2015 at the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre which revealed that a low-protein, high- carbohydrate diet was as effective as a calorie restricted diet in regard to extending the life of mice, Professor of Geriatric Medicine David G. Le Couteur and colleagues evaluated the effects of three unrestricted low-protein, high-carbohydrate diets and a control diet on the brain’s hippocampus, which is an area involved in memory and learning. "The hippocampus is usually the first part of the brain to deteriorate with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's,” Professor Le Couteur observed. “However, the low-protein high-carbohydrate diet appeared to promote hippocampus health and biology in the mice, on some measures to an even greater degree than those on the low-calorie diet."
"There are currently no effective pharmaceutical treatments for dementia - we can slow these diseases, but we can't stop them - so it's exciting that we are starting to identify diets that are impacting how the brain ages," enthused lead author and PhD candidate Devin Wahl. "We have close to 100 years of quality research extolling the benefits of calorie restriction as the most powerful diet to improve brain health and delay the onset of neurodegenerative disease in rodents. However, the majority of people have a hard time restricting calories, especially in Western societies where food is so freely available.
It shows a lot of promise that we have been able to replicate the same kind of gene changes in the part of the brain responsible for memory that we also see when we severely restrict calories.”
Updated blood pressure goals predicted to prevent over 3 million cardiovascular events during a decade
November 19, 2018. A study published on November 19, 2018 in Circulation predicts that maintaining the blood pressure goals established in 2017 by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association could result in 3.3 million fewer cardiovascular deaths over a 10-year period. The 2017 guidelines recommend that blood pressure be maintained at no higher than 130/80 mm Hg. The estimate of lives saved surpassed those associated with the seventh and eight Joint National Committee guidelines, which recommended an upper limit of no greater than 140/90 mm Hg among individuals younger than 60 years.
"A change in longstanding clinical guidelines is disruptive to patients and providers who are accustomed to clinical practice patterns that integrate the earlier guidelines," commented senior author Andrew Moran, MD, MPH, who is an associate professor of Medicine at the Columbia University. "It is important to project and quantify the range of potential benefits and risks expected if we make these fundamental changes to the way health care providers practice."
For the current study, the researchers analyzed information obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of U.S. adults and the REGARDS database. A meta-analysis of 42 blood pressure-lowering clinical trials that included a total of over 140,000 participants provided risk reduction predictions for cardiovascular events associated with different blood pressure targets. The team determined that meeting the latest blood pressure goals could result in 3.3 million fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease over 10 years."A conversation and shared decision making between provider and patient about benefits and risks of increasing the dose of a medication or adding a new medication to achieve a lower target are important." first author Adam Bress, PharmD, MS, noted.
Large meta-analysis confirms lower risk of diabetes in coffee drinkers
November 16, 2018. The results of a meta-analysis of more than a million subjects that was reported recently in Nutrition Reviews indicated that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was 29% lower in moderate coffee drinkers in comparison with those who don’t drink coffee.
Drs. Mattias Carlström and Susanna C. Larsson of Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet analyzed data from 30 prospective studies published through 2017 that included a total of 1,185,210 participants for their review. Participants included 53,018 men and women who developed type 2 diabetes.
Pooled analysis of the subjects revealed a 29% lower risk of developing diabetes in those who were among the highest category of coffee consumption (at a median intake of five cups per day) compared to the group who drank no coffee. For every one cup per day increase in caffeinated coffee consumption, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was lowered by 7%. When decaffeinated coffee intake was analyzed, the risk of diabetes was 6% lower per additional cup.
The findings add evidence to other studies that have uncovered a lower risk of diabetes in association with drinking coffee. In a presentation at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) 2018 Annual Meeting, held in Berlin during October 2018, Professor Kjeld Hermansen suggested that a number of factors may be involved in coffee’s antidiabetic effects, including mechanisms associated with coffee compounds such as cafestol and caffeic acid.
“Available evidence indicates that coffee consumption is inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes,” the authors conclude. “Possible mechanisms behind this association include thermogenic, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory effects; modulation of adenosine receptor signaling; and microbiome content and diversity.”
Salk researchers develop fisetin, curcumin as “geroneuroprotectors”
November 14, 2018. Research reported on November 13, 2018 in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences detailed the findings of a team from the Salk Institute in California who have synthesized potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases from two natural compounds that have already been identified as geroprotectors. “Geroprotectors are compounds that slow the rate of biological aging and therefore may reduce the incidence of age-associated diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease,” explained Salk professor David Schubert and colleagues.
"The argument for geroprotectors is that if one can extend the lifespan of model organisms, such as mice, and translate this effect to humans, then you should be able to slow down the appearance of many diseases that are associated with aging, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer and overall frailty," commented Dr. Schubert, who is the head of Salk's Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory.
Starting with the geroprotectors curcumin (which is derived from turmeric) and fisetin (found in strawberries and other fruits and vegetables), the researchers synthesized three compounds labeled CMS121, CAD31, and J147. These compounds and their parent compounds, dubbed “geroneuroprotectors,” decreased molecular markers of aging and dementia in mice and flies and extended median lifespan.
"If these drugs have benefits for other body systems, such as maintaining kidney function and overall muscle health, they could be used in additional ways to treat or prevent the diseases of aging," Dr. Schubert predicted.
Compounds CMS121, derived from fisetin, and J147, derived from curcumin are currently the subjects of research and review needed prior to their evaluation in clinical trials.
Salk Senior Staff Scientist and senior author Pamela Maher noted that "Since we found that the natural products curcumin and fisetin are also geroneuroprotectors and commercially available as supplements, they could provide some therapeutic benefits right now."
Genetics has less impact on lifespan than once believed
November 12, 2018. The November 2018 issue of Genetics published an article by J. Graham Ruby of Calico Life Sciences and colleagues which concludes that estimates of the heritability of longevity in humans “are substantially inflated.” Heritability is a measure of how much of a variation in a trait can be explained by genetic differences as opposed to lifestyle and other factors.
"We can potentially learn many things about the biology of aging from human genetics, but if the heritability of lifespan is low, it tempers our expectations about what types of things we can learn and how easy it will be," Dr. Ruby commented. "It helps contextualize the questions that scientists studying aging can effectively ask."
Using publicly-available data obtained for over 400 million people from the online genealogy company Ancestry, the team estimated heritability by examining the similarity of life span between relatives. In addition to similar lifespans among blood relatives, similarities were also observed between people who were related only by marriage and did not share households.
The researchers found that heritability of life span was no more than 7%, in contrast with previous estimates of up to 30%. It was determined that past estimates had failed to account for the tendency of humans to select partners with traits that were similar to their own, a process known as assortative mating. "What assortative mating means here is that the factors that are important for life span tend to be very similar between mates," Dr. Ruby explained. “When we failed to take assortative mating into account, our own nominal estimates were similar to those of the literature.”
The finding suggests that if the rate of human aging depends less upon our genes, which we cannot yet change, than upon things that can be modified.
Selenium compound mimics calorie restriction effects
November 9, 2018. An article published on October 24, 2018 in Molecular Medicine Reports reveals improvements in lifespan and aging-associated changes in association with selenocysteine supplementation in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans.
“Selenocysteine, a sulfur‑containing amino acid, can modulate cellular oxidative stress defense systems by incorporating into antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase.,” write So-Hyeon Kim and colleagues. “A recent study revealed that dietary supplementation with selenocysteine can increase the resistance of Caenorhabditis elegans to environmental stressors and its lifespan. The objective of the present study was to identify the underlying mechanism involved in the lifespan‑extending effect of selenocysteine and the effect of selenocysteine on age‑associated pathophysiological changes.”
The research involved normal C. elegans worms and genetically modified strains. Supplementation with selenocysteine increased the lifespan of normal worms as well as two of three strains of worms modified to live longer lives. Lack of a significant lifespan increase in association with selenocysteine supplementation in a third worm strain that was a model of dietary restriction suggested that the compound exerts its effects by similar mechanism. It was determined that selenocysteine requires the transcription factor SKN-1 (which is known to regulate responses to dietary restriction-induced lifespan in C. elegans) to extend life.
Further experimentation revealed that selenocysteine decreases the toxicity of amyloid beta, a protein that forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Selenocysteine was also shown to decrease toxicity induced by high levels of glucose and cellular reactive oxygen species.
The research provides evidence for the development of dietary restriction mimetics utilizing selenocysteine. “Further studies focusing on the effect of selenocysteine on age‑related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease Parkinson's disease, and diabetes mellitus in mammalian disease models and the molecular basis of the effect of selenocysteine are necessary for the understanding of in vivo activity of selenocysteine,” the authors conclude.
Coffee compounds may be protective against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease
November 7, 2018. On October 12, 2018, the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience reported the finding of the Krembril Research Institute of a potential protective effect for coffee-drinking against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
"Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease," noted Dr. Donald Weaver, who is codirector of the Krembil Brain Institute. "But we wanted to investigate why that is--which compounds are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline."
Dr. Weaver, along with Dr. Ross Mancini and Yanfei Wang studied light roast, dark roast, and decaffeinated dark roast coffees. "The caffeinated and decaffeinated dark roast both had identical potencies in our initial experimental tests," Dr. Mancini reported. "So, we observed early on that its protective effect could not be due to caffeine."
The team identified phenylindanes, a group of compounds produced in coffee as a result of the roasting process, as able to inhibit the clumping of protein fragments known as tau and amyloid beta. Clumping of these substances can occur in the brains of both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease patients. "So phenylindanes are a dual-inhibitor,” Dr. Weaver observed.
Since roasting increases phenylindane content, dark roast coffee may have more potent effects than light roast.
"It's the first time anybody's investigated how phenylindanes interact with the proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's," Dr. Mancini announced. "The next step would be to investigate how beneficial these compounds are, and whether they have the ability to enter the bloodstream or cross the blood-brain barrier."
"What this study does is take the epidemiological evidence and try to refine it and to demonstrate that there are indeed components within coffee that are beneficial to warding off cognitive decline," Dr. Weaver concluded.
Zinc plus plant phenol protects against oxidative stress
November 5, 2018. Research reported on October 1, 2018 in Nature Chemistry has revealed that a combination of hydroquinone with the trace mineral zinc combats the superoxide radical, a cause of oxidative stress associated with aging and decreased life expectancy. Hydroquinone is a phenol occurring in polyphenols that are found in such foods as coffee, tea and chocolate.
Superoxide is a reactive oxygen species thought to have a role in the aging process and adverse health conditions. Not only can superoxide damage the body’s proteins and lipids, but it can also harm the cells’ DNA. Damage caused by the superoxide radical has been associated with inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Superoxide is quenched by an antioxidant enzyme produced in the body known as superoxide dismutase (SOD), yet the body’s production of SOD may be insufficient.
“Reactive oxygen species are integral to many physiological processes,” Meghan B. Ward and her associates write. “Although their roles are still being elucidated, they seem to be linked to a variety of disorders and may represent promising drug targets.”
By itself, hydroquinone is incapable of breakdown superoxide. The research team, led by Professor Ivana Ivanovi-Burmazovi of Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany, along with Dr Christian R. Goldsmith of Auburn University, discovered that zinc activates hydroquinone, thereby protecting against harmful superoxide radicals formed during human cell respiration. The addition of hydroquinone to zinc results in a metal complex that imitates SOD. This avoids the potential problems associated with SOD mimetics which have utilized other minerals that have a greater potential for toxicity.
'It is certainly possible that wine, coffee, tea or chocolate may well become be available in future with added zinc,” predicted Professor Ivanovi-Burmazovi. “However, any alcohol content whatsoever would destroy the positive effects of this combination.”
Higher vitamin D levels linked to better cardiorespiratory fitness
November 2, 2018. An article published on October 30, 2018 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiologyreported an association between higher serum vitamin D and a greater level of cardiorespiratory fitness, which is considered to be an indicator of physical fitness.
Amr Marawan and colleagues analyzed data that included serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and maximal oxygen consumption during exercise (VO2 max) obtained from the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES). Among 1,995 participants, those whose vitamin D levels were among the top 25% had more than four times greater cardiorespiratory fitness (as assessed by VO2 max) in comparison with participants whose levels were among the lowest 25%. For each 10 nanomole increase in vitamin D there was associated a 0.78 milliliter/kilogram/minute increase in VO2 max. "This suggests that there is a dose response relationship, with each rise in vitamin D associated with a rise in exercise capacity," Dr Marawan explained. "The relationship between higher vitamin D levels and better exercise capacity holds in men and women, across the young and middle age groups, across ethnicities, regardless of body mass index or smoking status, and whether or not participants have hypertension or diabetes.”
"Our study shows that higher levels of vitamin D are associated with better exercise capacity," Dr Marawan concluded. "We also know from previous research that vitamin D has positive effects on the heart and bones. Make sure your vitamin D levels are normal to high. You can do this with diet, supplements, and a sensible amount of sun exposure."
"We know the optimum vitamin D levels for healthy bones, but studies are required to determine how much the heart needs to function at its best,” he added. “Randomized controlled trials should be conducted to examine the impact of differing amounts of vitamin D supplements on cardiorespiratory fitness."