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.
Blueberry intake associated with lower heart disease risk
May 31 2019. A study reported on May 28, 2019 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a lower risk of cardiovascular disease among men and women with metabolic syndrome who consumed the equivalent of a cup of blueberries daily for six months.
Metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of three or more risk factors that increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. "Previous studies have indicated that people who regularly eat blueberries have a reduced risk of developing conditions including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” lead researcher Aedin Cassidy noted. “This may be because blueberries are high in naturally occurring compounds called anthocyanins, which are the flavonoids responsible for the red and blue color in fruits.”
One hundred thirty-eight participants were randomized to groups that received 26 grams of powdered blueberries (equivalent to a cup of fresh blueberries), 13 grams powdered blueberries plus ½ cup of a mock blueberry placebo, or 26 grams of the placebo. Insulin resistance, flow mediated dilatation (a measure of endothelial function), augmentation index (which measures arterial stiffness), cholesterol and other factors were measured before and after the intervention.
The researchers observed an improvement in endothelial function and arterial stiffness in the group that received 26 grams of blueberry powder. Among participants who were not being treated with statin drugs, supplementation with 26 grams blueberry powder was associated with an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, HDL particle density and apolipoprotein A-1, the primary protein component of HDL in plasma.
“We show, to our knowledge, the first sustained improvements in vascular function, lipid status, and underlying nitric oxide bioactivity following one cup blueberries per day,” the authors conclude. “With effect sizes predictive of 12–15% reductions in cardiovascular disease risk, blueberries should be included in dietary strategies to reduce individual and population cardiovascular disease risk.”
Cranberry extract could reduce antibiotic requirement
May 29 2019. A study reported on May 28, 2019 in Advanced Science suggests a role for cranberries in improving the efficacy of antibiotics, which could lower the dose of antibiotics needed to treat bacterial infections. Reducing antibiotic usage may help slow the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, which renders the drugs less effective when used to treat infectious diseases.
Acting on the knowledge that cranberry juice helps prevent urinary tract infections, researchers at McGill University and INRS in Montreal investigated the effects of the addition of a cranberry proanthocyanidin fraction against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Proteus mirabilis bacteria. The cranberry extract increased the effectiveness of sulfamethoxazole, nitrofurantoin, gentamicin, kanamycin, tetracycline, and azithromycin against these bacteria by enabling the use of up to 98% less of the drugs than the amount required in the absence of cranberry. "These are really exciting results," commented coauthor Éric Déziel. "The activity is generated by molecules called proanthocyanidins. There are several different kinds of proanthocyanidins, and they may work together to deliver this outcome. We'll need to do more research to determine which ones are most active in synergy with the antibiotic."
When combined with tetracycline, the cranberry extract completely prevented antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. "Normally when we treat bacteria with an antibiotic in the lab, the bacteria eventually acquire resistance over time," observed lead author and McGill University chemical engineering professor Nathalie Tufenkji. "But when we simultaneously treated the bacteria with an antibiotic and the cranberry extract, no resistance developed. We were very surprised by this, and we see it as an important opportunity."
"We are eager to pursue this research further," she added. "Our hope is to reduce the doses of antibiotics required in human and veterinary medicine as part of efforts to combat antibiotic resistance."
Supplements beat sunlight at increasing vitamin D
May 24 2019. A meta-analysis reported on May 20, 2019 in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found a greater ability for vitamin D3 supplementation to increase serum vitamin D levels in comparison with sunlight exposure.
“Vitamin D deficiency can be managed by vitamin D supplementation (exogenous vitamin D) or getting regular sunlight exposure (endogenous vitamin D), write Sajjad Moradi of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences and colleagues. “There are several risk factors for insufficient endogenous synthesis of vitamin D including dark skin, limited skin sun exposure, seasonal variation in ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation and geographic situations.”
The researchers selected seven clinical trials that compared 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D3] levels in a total of 792 subjects who received oral vitamin D supplements or sunlight exposure. Four trials involved direct sunlight exposure while the remainder administered artificial ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Vitamin D3 doses ranged from 400 international units (IU) to 5000 IU per day given for 8 to 48 weeks. Four trials also evaluated serum parathyroid (PTH) levels. (As vitamin D increases, PTH levels tend to decline.)
Pooled analysis of the subjects’ data revealed that supplementing with vitamin D3 was associated with serum vitamin D levels that were an average of 3.6 nanograms per milliliter greater than those associated with sunlight exposure. Restricting the analysis to short-term or long-term studies failed to modify the association. Direct sunlight exposure was less effective at elevating vitamin D than UVB exposure. Serum parathyroid hormone levels were not observed to significantly differ between the groups after treatment.
“Our findings for the first time compare the effect of oral vitamin D supplementation with sunlight exposure on 25(OH)D3 and PTH,” the authors announce. “Our results clearly implicated that in comparison with sun exposure, oral vitamin D supplementation was more effective at increasing 25(OH)D3 concentrations.”
Selenium supplementation associated with lower risk of ICU mortality
May 22 2019. Results of a meta-analysis reported in the May 2019 issue of the journal Medicine found a lower risk of mortality among intensive care unit (ICU) patients who were given the antioxidant mineral selenium.
“Previous studies indicated that the circulating antioxidant and anti-inflammatory levels would decrease rapidly after injury, sepsis, or surgery and would remain below the normal levels for several days or even weeks,” write Yan Zhao and colleagues at Chinese PLA Army General Hospital in Beijing. “The severer the trauma, the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), or the sepsis, the larger the depletion of antioxidants appears to be. These changes are associated with an increase in the free radical generation, an augmentation of the systemic inflammatory response, and are playing a direct role in cell death, increased morbidity, and even higher mortality in the critically ill patients.”
The researchers selected 19 randomized, controlled trials that included 3,341 critically ill patients for the meta-analysis. Diagnoses included sepsis, septic shock, traumatic brain injury and cardiac surgery. Intravenous selenium as a monotherapy was received by 1,694 subjects. With the exception of four trials, daily doses of selenium varied during the duration of each trial. Treatment duration ranged from 4.1 days to over 28 days.
Patients who received selenium had a 14% less risk of dying during the trials in comparison with those who received a placebo or no treatment. When the nine trials that reported length of ICU stay were analyzed, no significant difference in length of stay was observed between those who received selenium and the control subjects; however, selenium supplementation was associated with shorter total hospital stay.
“The current evidence suggests that the use of selenium could cause reduction in overall mortality and may shorten the length of stay in hospital in critically ill patients,” the authors conclude.
Fish oil helps protect brains of presymptomatic Alzheimer’s mice
May 20 2019. Research reported on May 16, 2019 in the journal PLOS One found a benefit for fish oil when given before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease developed in mice that were bred to acquire the disease.
Neurites are the axons and dendrites that protrude from and connect cells known as neurons, which are damaged by amyloid-beta protein in Alzheimer’s disease. The current study examined the effects of three weeks of fish oil supplementation on neurite degeneration, tau hyperphosphorylation (which occurs in Alzheimer’s disease), amyloid-beta peptide 1–42 (Aβ42, which forms plaques in the brains of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease), and the behavior of immune system cells known as microglia and macrophages in the early phases of Alzheimer’s disease in a mouse model.
“Amyloid-beta protein (Aβ) is the pivotal mediator of neuronal cell loss in the Alzheimer’s disease brain with Aβ42 found to be the most toxic form. Plaques are mostly encircled by a halo of diffuse Aβ42, surrounded by dystrophic neurites and activated glia,” explain authors Milena Jović and colleagues at the University of Belgrade in Serbia. “Considering that the appearance of the dystrophic neurites represents an early event that precedes neuronal loss, we aimed to examine whether the modification in dietary consumption via the addition of fish oil, in the presymptomatic phase of Alzheimer’s disease pathology, could attenuate or even prevent the progression of the dystrophic neurite formation.”
The team found that the administration of fish oil stimulated microglia and macrophages to establish a barrier surrounding amyloid brain plaques which suppressed dystrophic neurites via a reduction in amyloid-beta and hyperphosphorylated tau.
“Fish oil supplementation as a prophylactic intervention targeted to the enhancement of microglia/macrophage barrier may represent a promising strategy that offers effective neuroprotection,” the authors conclude.
Indole-3-carbinol suppresses tumor growth in experimental research
May 17 2019. An article published on May 17, 2019 in Science reports the findings of Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, and colleagues of an ability for indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a compound derived from broccoli and other members of the Brassicaceae family (formerly known as the Cruciferae family), to target a gene involved in tumor growth.
"We found a new important player that drives a pathway critical to the development of cancer, an enzyme that can be inhibited with a natural compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables," announced Dr Pandolfi, who is the Director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "This pathway emerges not only as a regulator for tumor growth control, but also as an Achilles' heel we can target with therapeutic options."
Dr Pandolfi’s team discovered that I3C inactivates a gene known as WWP1 that produces an enzyme which inhibits the tumor suppressor gene PTEN. Inactivation of WWP1 in mice bred to develop prostate cancer at five to twelve months of age resulted in a decrease in tumor size and weight and less invasive carcinoma at five months in comparison with control animals.
The research team identified I3C as an inhibitor of WWP1. Similar to the effects of genetic inactivation of WWP1, giving I3C to cancer-prone mice suppressed tumor growth. "Either genetic or pharmacological inactivation of WWP1 with either CRISPR technology or I3C could restore PTEN function and further unleash its tumor suppressive activity," Dr Pandolfi stated. "These findings pave the way toward a long-sought tumor suppressor reactivation approach to cancer treatment."
“We identified indole-3-carbinol, a compound found in cruciferous vegetables, as a natural and potent WWP1 inhibitor,” the authors conclude. “Thus, our findings unravel a potential therapeutic strategy for cancer prevention and treatment through PTEN reactivation.”
Glucosamine supplementation associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease
May 15 2019. On May 14, 2019, The BMJ reported the finding of an association between a lower risk of cardiovascular disease events, coronary heart disease, stroke and death from cardiovascular disease among people who supplemented with glucosamine. Glucosamine is a popular over-the-counter supplement used by people with osteoarthritis to relieve pain and support healthy joint tissue.
Lu Qi and colleagues at Tulane University utilized data from 466,039 men and women who enrolled in the UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010. Subjects completed questionnaires upon enrollment that provided data concerning diet, alcohol intake, supplement use and other factors. The participants were followed for an average of seven years, during which hospital records and death certificates were used to ascertain the occurrence of cardiovascular events.
People who used glucosamine supplements had a 15% lower risk of total cardiovascular disease events, defined as cardiovascular disease death, coronary heart disease and stroke, in comparison with people who did not use the supplements. When these outcomes were examined individually, glucosamine use was associated with a 22% lower risk of cardiovascular death, an 18% lower risk of coronary heart disease and a 9% lower risk of stroke. Adjustment for several risk factors failed to significantly modify the associations. The protective effect of glucosamine was strongest in smokers.
As a potential mechanism, the authors cite the association between glucosamine use and a reduction in levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker of inflammation. Additionally, according to the authors, glucosamine has been treated as an energy restriction mimetic agent, which could favorably impact many conditions.
“Habitual use of glucosamine supplements to relieve osteoarthritis pain might also be related to lower risks of cardiovascular events,” they conclude. “Clinical trials are warranted to test this hypothesis.”
Study suggests alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin D could slow brain aging
May 13 2019. Research reported on February 28, 2019 in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity reveals a potential role for supplementation with lipoic acid and vitamin D in slowing brain aging.
Researchers at the University of Piemonte Orientale in Italy investigated the effect of these nutrients on oxidative stress and iron accumulation damage, both of which impact brain aging. Cultures of star-shaped brain cell known as astrocytes, which are responsible for the maintenance of neuronal and synaptic functions, were treated with hydrogen peroxide to model oxidative stress and, in other experiments, with catalytic iron for six days to induce neurodegeneration.
It was initially demonstrated that vitamin D and lipoic acid were able to cross an in vitro blood brain barrier, confirming their usefulness in human brain disorders. In cells treated with hydrogen peroxide, the nutrient combination decreased a type of programmed cell death known as apoptosis. In iron-treated cells, vitamin D and lipoic acid prevented accumulation of the mineral. “The accumulation of iron in specific brain regions, greater than that reported in healthy ageing, occurs in many neurodegenerative diseases and is often associated with oxidative stress and cellular damage,” authors Claudio Molinari and colleagues explain.
“This study demonstrates for the first time that the combination of lipoic acid and vitamin D is an effective treatment for astrocytes under oxidative stress conditions, indicating the possibility of developing new strategies to treat brain ageing in all stages,” they announce. “Besides, the combined treatment with lipoic acid and vitamin D improved the negative effects of preneurodegenerative conditions, so there are the preludes to develop a new formulation to slow down brain ageing and neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.”
Decreased vitamin D levels associated with greater odds of PE
May 10 2019. A study reported on April 4, 2019 in the International Brazilian Journal of Urology revealed a lower levels of vitamin D in men with acquired premature ejaculation (PE) in comparison with men who did not have the condition.
“The present study is the first study to research the relationship between acquired PE and serum vitamin D levels,” authors Lütfi Canat and colleagues announced.
The study compared 97 patients who had acquired PE (as opposed to lifelong PE) for six months or more duration and 64 men without PE. Age, body mass index, smoking status and other factors were similar between the groups. Blood samples were analyzed for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and testosterone levels. While men without PE had vitamin D levels that averaged 18 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), those with the condition had significantly lower levels of 12 ng/mL.
As potential mechanisms, the authors list several factors. The first is an association observed between vitamin D deficiency and anxiety, which can play a role in PE. A second possibility is the influence of vitamin D on the ejaculatory reflex arc. Another mechanism may involve the association of vitamin D with total testosterone levels although, in this study, there were no differences between average testosterone levels between the groups. A final possibility is the association of low vitamin D levels with impaired production of nitric oxide and nitric oxide synthase, which can affect ejaculation.
“This study demonstrates that lower vitamin D levels are associated with acquired PE,” the authors concluded. “The result of our study showed that the role of serum vitamin D levels should be investigated in the etiology of acquired PE. Perhaps supplementation of vitamin D in men with acquired PE will ameliorate the sexual health of these patients.”
Meta-analysis supports heart-healthy claim for soy
May 08 2019. A meta-analysis reported on April 22, 2019 in the Journal of Nutrition supports the FDA-approved claim that diets that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol which include soy protein "may" or "might" reduce the risk of heart disease. The claim was approved in 1999 by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as permissible in association with the sale of soy protein products.
“Certain plant foods (nuts and soy protein) and food components (viscous fibers and plant sterols) have been permitted by the FDA to carry a heart health claim based on their cholesterol-lowering ability,” write Sonia Blanco Mejia of the University of Toronto and her colleagues. “The FDA is currently considering revoking the heart health claim for soy protein due to a perceived lack of consistent LDL cholesterol reduction in randomized controlled trials.”
The analysis included 43 of the same 46 trials upon which the FDA will base its decision. These 43 trials provided data concerning the association of soy protein supplementation with total cholesterol. Forty-one trials also examined soy protein intake’s association with low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
The majority of the trials resulted in a decrease in LDL cholesterol in association with soy protein supplementation. The researchers concluded that soy protein was associated with a 3%-4% reduction in LDL.
"We hope the public will continue to consider plant-based diets as a healthy option," commented lead researcher David Jenkins, who is the director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre and a scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. “It is in line with Health Canada's recently released Food Guide, which emphasizes plant protein food consumption by Canadians."
Phenolic acid intake associated with lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer
May 06 2019. Research findings reported at the European Congress on Obesity, held this year from April 28 to May 1 in Glasgow, reveal an association between a lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer and higher intake of a type of phenolic acids known as hydroxycinnamic acids.
Hydroxycinnamic acids include chlorogenic acids that are found in coffee, grains, fruits and vegetables. The study is the first to examine the relationship between phenolic acid intake and the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, which has been linked with obesity.
Andrea Romanos Nanclares of the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain and colleagues analyzed data from 11,028 female university graduates enrolled in the SUN (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra) cohort. Dietary questionnaires completed at the beginning of the study provided data used to calculate type and quantity of phenolic acid intake. During an 11.8-year average follow-up, 101 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed among the group.
Higher consumption of hydroxycinnamic acids was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. Women whose intake was among the highest one-third of participants had a 62% lower risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer in comparison with women whose intake was among the lowest third. When chlorogenic acids were evaluated, subjects whose intake was among the top third had a 65% lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer than those in the lowest group.
"A higher intake of hydroxycinnamic acids, especially from chlorogenic acids - present in coffee, fruits and vegetables - was associated with decreased postmenopausal breast cancer risk, possibly through reductions in adipose tissue inflammation, oxidative stress or insulin resistance," the authors conclude. "These findings support current World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research guidelines to adhere to a diet high in fruits and vegetables for cancer prevention."
Senescent cell removal could help slow cognitive decline
May 03 2019. Research reported on April 1, 2019 in Nature Neuroscience suggests a potential benefit for senolytics—compounds that remove aged, nondividing senolytic cells—in reducing Alzheimer’s disease-associated cognitive decline.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by brain plaques formed by the aggregation of amyloid beta proteins which have a destructive effect on the neurons that surround it. Brain cells known as oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (which develop into oligodendrocytes that produce myelin), which appear in high numbers near these plaques, have been found to become senescent in Alzheimer’s disease and lose their normal functions. "Our results show that eliminating these cells may be a viable route to treat Alzheimer's disease in humans,” reported senior investigator Mark Mattson, PhD, of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
By administering the senolytic compounds dasatinib (a cancer drug) and quercetin for nine days to mice that were bred to have some of the characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease, Dr Mattson’s team observed a greater than 90% reduction in senescent oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. In another experiment, in which Alzheimer’s mice received no treatment or quercetin plus dasatinib once weekly for 11 weeks, animals treated with the senolytic compounds were able to navigate a maze in half the time as the untreated mice. In comparison with untreated animals, those that received quercetin and dasatinib developed 50% less brain inflammation, which is a factor in the development of amyloid plaques.
“Senolytic treatment of Alzheimer’s disease mice selectively removed senescent cells from the plaque environment, reduced neuroinflammation, lessened amyloid beta load, and ameliorated cognitive deficits,” the authors concluded. “Our findings suggest a role for amyloid beta-induced oligodendrocyte progenitor cells senescence in neuroinflammation and cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s disease, and a potential therapeutic benefit of senolytic treatments.”
Omega-3 may help protect against adverse cardiovascular effects of pollution
May 01 2019. An article published in the April 30, 2019 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported a protective effect for supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids against some of the harmful cardiovascular effects of exposure to air pollution in China.
“Particulate air pollution is the single most important preventable environmental risk factor globally, with recent estimates suggesting greater than 8 million deaths annually,” write Sanjay Rajagopalan, MD, and Robert D. Brook, MD, in an accompanying editorial. “The study by Lin et al. in this issue of the Journal is one of the first to test omega-3 in an environment where ambient air pollution levels are known to be markedly elevated.”
The randomized, double-blinded trial included 65 healthy college students in Shanghai, China who received 2.5 grams fish oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids or a placebo daily from September 2017 to January 2018. During the last two months of the trial, the subjects participated in four health examinations that included blood pressure assessment and measurement of blood markers of inflammation, coagulation, endothelial function, oxidative stress, antioxidant activity, cardiometabolism and neuroendocrine stress response.
Campus levels of fine particulate matter air pollution (PM 2.5) measured during the course of the trial averaged 38 micrograms per cubic meter. The researchers observed greater stability of most biomarker levels in responses to changes in fine particulate matter exposure in the fish oil-treated group in comparison with the placebo group. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was associated with beneficial effects for five blood biomarkers of inflammation, coagulation, endothelial function, oxidative stress, and neuroendocrine stress response. “This trial shows that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is associated with short-term subclinical cardiovascular benefits against PM2.5 exposure among healthy young adults in China,” authors Zhijing Lin and colleagues conclude.