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What's Hot

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.


  • Lifelong choline supplementation could have big payoff
  • Resveratrol improves safety of diabetes drug in experimental research
  • VITAL findings for vitamin D and omega-3
  • Once again, low vitamin D associated with greater risk of premature mortality
  • Migraine linked with low B12
  • For many people without cardiovascular disease, benefits of aspirin still outweigh risks
  • Vitamin E shows promise as heart attack treatment
  • Drinking tea supports a healthy brain
  • Evidence review concludes benefit for supplements in mental illness
  • Soft drink intake associated with risk of mortality during 16.4-year follow-up
  • Probiotic use could result in significant savings
  • Meta-analysis adds evidence to association between vitamin D supplementation and lower LDL, triglycerides
  • Vegans at risk of choline deficiency

    Lifelong choline supplementation could have big payoff

    Lifelong choline supplementation could have big payoff September 30, 2019. Research reported on September 27, 2019 in Aging Cell suggested that choline supplementation throughout one’s life could lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

    “Choline is a B‐like vitamin nutrient found in common foods that is important in various cell functions,” Ramon Velazquez and his associates at Arizona State University wrote. “It serves as a methyl donor and as a precursor for production of cell membranes.”

    The research team gave healthy female mice and female mice bred to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease a diet that contained an average amount of choline or a high amount of choline from the ages of 2.5 to 10 months. The animals were assessed for spatial memory and received neuropathological evaluations at the end of the study.   

    Alzheimer’s disease model mice that received choline had less of the amyloid-beta plaque that characterizes the disease and better memory than unsupplemented animals. The effects were associated with a reduction in amyloidogenic processing of amyloid precursor protein and lowered activation of the brain’s immune cells known as microglia. "We found that lifelong choline supplementation altered the alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine and Sigma-1 receptor, which may have resulted in the reduction of disease-associated activated microglia," Dr Velazquez explained.

    While the current recommended daily intake (RDI) level of choline is 550 milligrams per day for adult men and 425 milligrams per day for women, Dr Velazquez noted that “Our choline supplemented diet regimen was only 4.5 times the RDI, which is well below the tolerable upper limit and makes this a safe strategy.”

    "Our work nicely complements recent work showing benefits in male Alzheimer’s disease-mice on a lifelong choline supplementation regimen," Dr Velazquez stated. "No one has shown lifelong benefits of choline supplementation in female Alzheimer’s disease-mice. That's what is novel about our work."

    —D Dye


    Resveratrol improves safety of diabetes drug in experimental research

    Resveratrol improves safety of diabetes drug in experimental research September 27, 2019. Research reported on August 8, 2019 in JCI Insight has determined a cause for the toxicity to the heart that has been associated with drugs known as dual PPAR-alpha/gamma agonists.

    Among drugs approved to treat diabetes, thiazolidinediones bind to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) gamma to help lower blood glucose levels without impacting unhealthy lipids that accompany the disease. Disordered lipids have been separately targeted with PPAR-alpha agonist drugs such as fibrates that lower triglycerides and elevate high-density lipoproteins (HDL).  However, drugs that target both PPAR-alpha and PPAR-gamma have been associated with heart dysfunction or other adverse events. To discover the cause, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University treated mice with the PPAR-alpha/PPAR-gamma agonist tesaglitazar and observed that, despite lowered glucose and triglycerides, the animals developed heart dysfunction. Examination of heart tissue showed a reduction in the expression and activation of a protein involved in the formation of new mitochondria (the energy-producing organelles of the cells), decreases in the number of mitochondria and lowered expression of the protein SIRT1.

    "We found that the combined activation of PPAR-alpha and PPAR-gamma receptors by a single agonist drug, tesaglitazar, blocked the activity of proteins involved in mitochondrial biogenesis and energy production, including a protein known as SIRT1," explained senior investigator and assistant professor of pharmacology Konstantinos Drosatos, PhD. "When we reactivated SIRT1 with resveratrol, an antioxidant widely known for its presence in grape skins, heart toxicity was reduced and the benefits of dual lowering of lipid and glucose levels were maintained in tesaglitazar-treated mice."

    "Now we have much a clearer idea of how heart toxicity arises from treatment with dual PPAR-alpha/gamma agonists," he added. "This allows us to more effectively guide the development of future PPAR-targeting drugs."

    —D Dye


    VITAL findings for vitamin D and omega-3

    VITAL findings for vitamin D and omega-3 September 25, 2019. Analysis of data obtained in The VITamin D and OmegA-3 Trial (VITAL), which is the largest and most recent clinical trial to evaluate the association of vitamin D or fish oil supplementation with the risk of developing cancer or cardiovascular disease, revealed protective effects for fish oil against heart attack and for vitamin D against the risk of dying from cancer. The results were presented at The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting, held in Chicago during September 25–28, 2019.

    “Whether vitamin D or omega-3 supplementation is beneficial for the prevention of cancer or cardiovascular disease (CVD) in general populations at usual risk for these endpoints is a subject of ongoing debate,” write Joann E. Manson and colleagues. “The VITamin D and OmegA-3 TriaL (VITAL) was designed to fill these knowledge gaps.”

    The trial included 25,871 men and women. After a 5.3-year median, daily supplementation with one gram omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil was associated with a small reduction in the risk of all major cardiovascular events in comparison with a placebo, while those with low fish intake experienced a significantly greater risk reduction. Heart attack, fatal heart attack and percutaneous coronary intervention, but not stroke or other cardiovascular disease endpoints, were significantly reduced in the fish oil supplemented group. The protective effect against heart attack was strongest among African Americans.

    In association with vitamin D, a significant decrease in the risk of cancer mortality was observed among men and women who received 2,000 IU daily for at least two years.

    "With heart disease and cancer representing the most significant health threats to women, it is imperative that we continue to study the viability of options that prevent these diseases and help women survive them," noted NAMS medical director Dr Stephanie Faubion.

    —D Dye


    Once again, low vitamin D associated with greater risk of premature mortality

    Once again, low vitamin D associated with greater risk of premature mortality September 23, 2019. Findings reported at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, held September 16-20, 2019, add evidence to an association between low levels of vitamin D and a greater risk of dying prematurely.

    While there have been several studies concerning the association between vitamin D levels and mortality, researchers Rodrig Marculescu and colleagues note that "Cause-specific mortalities and the impact of age on the association of vitamin D with the risk of death have not yet been reported in detail."

    The team analyzed data from 78,581 men and women who had their 25-hydroxyvitamin D level measured between 1991 and 2011 at the General Hospital of Vienna. Subjects were followed for up to 20 years during which data from the Austrian national register of deaths provided information concerning mortalities and their causes.

    A low vitamin D level of 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) was associated with a two to three times greater risk of dying over follow-up compared to levels greater than 20 ng/mL. Subjects between the ages of 45 and 60 years experienced the greatest increase in risk. In comparison with 20 ng/mL, levels of 36 ng/mL or more were associated with a reduction in mortality risk of 30 to 40%, with those between the ages of 45 and 60 again experiencing the strongest effect.

    The greatest benefit for vitamin D was observed in association with diabetes-related mortality. Subjects whose vitamin D levels were 20 ng/mL or less had a 4.4 times greater risk of dying from diabetes compared with those whose levels were higher.

    "Our findings strengthen the rationale for widespread vitamin D supplementation to prevent premature mortality, emphasize the need for it early in life and mitigate concerns about a possible negative effect at higher levels," the authors conclude.

    —D Dye


    Migraine linked with low B12

    Migraine linked with low B12 September 20, 2019. Findings of a study reported on August 31, 2019 in Headache reveal a greater risk of low levels of vitamin B12 and higher levels of methylmalonic acid (MMA, which is increased with B12 deficiency), among individuals with migraine headache.

    “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that investigates the association between migraine and functional status of vitamin B12 through measuring serum B12 as well as MMA levels that has been suggested as the most sensitive and specific biomarker of this vitamin,” authors Mansoureh Togha, MD, and colleagues announce.

    The study compared 70 men and women who experienced chronic or episodic migraines to 70 healthy adults who did not suffer from the condition. Fasting blood samples were analyzed for serum vitamin B12 and methylmalonic acid levels.

    While the healthy group had vitamin B12 levels that averaged 667 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL), levels among migraine patients averaged 512 pg/mL. Methylmalonic acid levels in the healthy group were 1.01 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL), while the migraine group had levels of 1.39 mcg/dL.

    Among those whose vitamin B12 levels were among the top 25% of participants there was an 80% lower risk of migraine compared to participants whose levels were among the lowest 25%, and for those whose MMA levels were among the top 25%, the risk of migraine was over five times greater.

    The authors discuss the hypothesis that elevated levels of homocysteine could provoke migraine and suggest that vitamin B12’s involvement in the regulation of homocysteine may help support the association revealed by this study, in addition to other mechanisms.

    “Future studies need to be carried out to establish whether supplementation with vitamin B12 alone can improve migraine characteristics and if so, whether there are any unknown cellular or molecular pathways related to the ameliorating effects of this vitamin on migraine,” they conclude.

    —D Dye


    For many people without cardiovascular disease, benefits of aspirin still outweigh risks

    For many people without cardiovascular disease, benefits of aspirin still outweigh risks September 18, 2019. A study published on September 16, 2019 in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that, for many patients without known cardiovascular disease (CVD), the potential benefit of daily aspirin outweighs bleeding risks. While the value of aspirin among people who have experienced a cardiovascular event has been confirmed, it had not been known whether its protective effects were stronger than its ability to increase blood-thinning and bleeding events in people without established disease.

    The investigation included 245,028 men and women between the ages of 30 and 79 years whose cardiovascular disease risk assessment during 2012-2016 automatically enrolled them in the study. The potential effect of daily aspirin use was determined by calculating the number of cardiovascular events expected to be prevented by aspirin and the number of major bleeds likely to occur over a five-year period.

    “This study found that 2.5% of women and 12.1% of men without established CVD were likely to derive net benefit from aspirin treatment for five years if a hospitalization or death due to an acute CVD event was considered equivalent to a hospitalization or death due to an acute major bleed,” reported Vanessa Selak, MBchB, PhD. “These percentages increased to 21% of women and 41% of men when one CVD event was assumed to be equivalent to two major bleeds. Compared with the net harm subgroups, the net benefit subgroups had a higher baseline five-year CVD risk, with higher levels of most established CVD risk factors and lower levels of bleeding-specific risk factors.”

    In an accompanying editorial, John B. Kostis, MD, wrote, “It seems reasonable to recommend aspirin for the primary prevention of CVD in select patients, including those who are at high risk for CVD, provided that the bleeding risk is low.”

    —D Dye


    Vitamin E shows promise as heart attack treatment

    Vitamin E shows promise as heart attack treatment September 16, 2019. In the September 2019 issue of Redox Biology, Karlheinz Peter of Australia’s Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and colleagues report a benefit for vitamin E in experimental myocardial infarction (heart attack).

    “Myocardial infarction (MI) is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide and new treatment strategies are highly sought-after,” Dr Peter and his associates write. “Paradoxically, reperfusion of the ischemic myocardium, as achieved with early percutaneous intervention, results in substantial damage to the heart (ischemia/reperfusion injury) caused by cell death due to aggravated inflammatory and oxidative stress responses.”

    Vitamin E given to mice two hours before heart attack was induced was associated with a reduction in the size of damaged heart tissue, restoration of cardiac function and prevention of pathological changes. Protective mechanisms identified included an anti-inflammatory effect, and a decrease in reactive oxygen species and lipid peroxidation within damaged tissue.

    "One of the most effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents is vitamin E and its derivatives," observed Dr Peter. "Our treatment regime reflects clinical conditions, where patients could receive their first application of vitamin E in the ambulance or upon their arrival in the emergency department, before reopening and stenting the blocked vessel and the following days in hospital before discharge."

    “Our next step is to test an already approved formulation of vitamin E in patients admitted with a heart attack," he stated. "We plan to prove that heart function is preserved using sensitive magnetic resonance imaging. Thereby, we hope to establish an inexpensive and effective therapy for patients with heart attack."

    "As there is currently no drug available that can reduce the cardiac damage caused by an overshooting inflammation after reopening of a blocked coronary artery, the potential impact of our finding on cardiovascular health would be significant," first author Maria Wallert added.

    —D Dye


    Drinking tea supports a healthy brain

    Drinking tea supports a healthy brain September 13, 2019. Research reported on June 14, 2019 in the journal Aging revealed a brain benefit in association with regular tea drinking.

    "Our results offer the first evidence of positive contribution of tea drinking to brain structure, and suggest that drinking tea regularly has a protective effect against age-related decline in brain organization," announced team leader Assistant Professor Feng Lei, of the Department of Psychological Medicine at the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

    Acting on the results of previous research that found a reduction in the risk of cognitive decline among daily tea drinkers, the current study compared 15 tea drinkers aged 60 and older to 21 participants in the same age group who did not regularly consume tea. Neuropsychological tests evaluated cognitive function and magnetic resonance imaging assessed brain connectivity. Participants who regularly consumed tea had better organized brain regions and cognitive function compared to those who were not tea drinkers.

    "Take the analogy of road traffic as an example - consider brain regions as destinations, while the connections between brain regions are roads,” Dr Feng Lei explained. “When a road system is better organized, the movement of vehicles and passengers is more efficient and uses less resources. Similarly, when the connections between brain regions are more structured, information processing can be performed more efficiently."

    "We have shown in our previous studies that tea drinkers had better cognitive function as compared to non-tea drinkers,” he added. "Our current results relating to brain network indirectly support our previous findings by showing that the positive effects of regular tea drinking are the result of improved brain organization brought about by preventing disruption to interregional connections."

    The authors concluded that “Tea drinking might be a simple lifestyle choice that benefits brain health.”

    —D Dye


    Evidence review concludes benefit for supplements in mental illness

    Evidence review concludes benefit for supplements in mental illness September 11, 2019. The October 2019 issue of World Psychiatry: The Official Journal of the World Psychiatric Association published a meta-synthesis of 33 meta-analyses that concluded a benefit for several dietary supplements in mental health disorders.

    "In this most recent research, we have brought together the data from dozens and dozens of clinical trials conducted all over the world, in over 10,000 individuals treated for mental illness,” commented first author Joseph Firth of Western Sydney University. “This mass of data has allowed us to investigate the benefits and safety of various different nutrients for mental health conditions - on a larger scale than what has ever been possible before."

    Dr Firth and colleagues selected 33 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials that included a total of 10,951 individuals with depression, stress and anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, personality disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The strongest evidence emerged in favor of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for major depression as an add-on treatment to antidepressant drugs. Omega-3 may also be effective in ADHD.

    The review found evidence to support the use of the amino acid N-acetylcysteine in mood disorders and schizophrenia. While the synthetic form of the B vitamin folic acid was not found to be helpful in mental disorders, methylfolate (the bioactive form) was beneficial as an add-on therapy for schizophrenia as well as major depression.

    "Future research should aim to determine which individuals might benefit most from evidence-based supplements and to better understand the underlying mechanisms so we can adopt a targeted approach to supplement use in mental health treatment," recommended senior author Jerome Sarris.

    "The role of the gut microbiome in mental health is a rapidly emerging field of research, however more research is needed into the role of 'psychobiotics' in mental health treatment," he added.

    —D Dye


    Soft drink intake associated with risk of mortality during 16.4-year follow-up

    Soft drink intake associated with risk of mortality during 16.4-year follow-up September 9, 2019. A study published on September 3, 2019 in JAMA Internal Medicine found that regular consumption of soft drinks was associated with a greater risk of mortality during a 16.4 average period compared to infrequent intake.

    The study included data from 451,743 men and women enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort, which includes subjects recruited between 1992 and 2000. Dietary assessments completed upon enrollment provided information concerning the number and type of soft drinks consumed per month, week or day. Cancer registries and other sources provided information concerning deaths that occurred through 2013.

    During follow-up, 41,693 deaths were reported. In comparison with low soft drink intake, defined as less than one glass per month, subjects who were categorized as high consumers, who had an intake of two or more glasses per day, had a risk of dying from any cause during follow-up that was 17% higher. High intake of sugar sweetened soft drinks was associated with an 8% greater risk of mortality and high intake of artificially sweetened beverages was associated with a 26% greater risk. The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was 27% greater among subjects with high soft drink intake, and 52% greater among high consumers of artificially sweetened drinks compared to a low intake. For deaths from digestive diseases, drinking at least a glass per day of a sugar sweetened drink was associated with a 59% greater risk compared to less than a glass per month.

    “To our knowledge, this study is the largest to date to investigate the association between soft drink consumption and mortality,” Amy Mullee, PhD, and colleagues announce. “The results of this study are supportive of ongoing public health campaigns aimed at reducing the consumption of soft drinks.”

    —D Dye


    Probiotic use could result in significant savings

    Probiotic use could result in significant savings September 6, 2019. A study published on August 28, 2019 in Frontiers in Pharmacology estimates the savings that would result from a decrease in medical bills and productivity loss due to influenza and other acute respiratory tract infections (RTIs) if the U.S. population were to regularly consume probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria that help maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract.

    "We wanted to assess how much the use of probiotics in the management of common acute respiratory tract infections could contribute to savings in healthcare costs in the U.S.," explained coauthor Daniel Tancredi.

    Two recent meta-analyses conducted by the York Health Economics Consortium and The Cochrane Collaboration provided evidence that probiotics were effective in reducing RTI incidence and duration, number of antibiotic courses and missed workdays. Using this data and the 2017-18 Influenza Season of FluView from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other national databases, the team developed an economic model that simulated the effects of probiotic use among U.S. residents. They determined that general probiotic use could save the health care payer and the economy approximately $1.4 billion in medical bills and lost productivity due to respiratory tract infections versus non-use.

    "Although flu-like illnesses usually resolve on their own after one or two weeks, there is great benefit in reducing influenza-like illness incidence and duration," commented first author Irene Lenoir-Wijnkoop. "Less sickness means reduced suffering and significant cost savings from health care expenses and sick absences."

    "Because both reviews included studies from different strains of probiotics, including both effective and ineffective ones, our results are based on an estimated average effect," Dr Tancredi noted. "With more evidence on which probiotics are effective in protecting against RTIs, it would be possible to generate more definitive estimates of the potential cost savings associated with their use."

    —D Dye


    Meta-analysis adds evidence to association between vitamin D supplementation and lower LDL, triglycerides

    Meta-analysis adds evidence to association between vitamin D supplementation and lower LDL, triglycerides September 4, 2019. A review and meta-analysis published on August 13, 2019 in Nutrition Reviews found a greater likeliness improved lipid profiles among men and women who supplemented with vitamin D.

    “Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent across the world,” wrote Daniel T. Dibaba of the University of Tennessee and the University of Kentucky. “The existing evidence suggests vitamin D may have beneficial effects on serum lipid profiles and thus cardiovascular health.”

    Dr Dibaba selected 41 randomized controlled trials that included a total of 3,434 participants for the meta-analysis. Sixty-three percent of the participants were women. One thousand six hundred ninety-nine subjects received vitamin D supplements while the remainder received placebos. Twenty-four percent of the trials had follow-up periods that were longer than six months.

    Pooled analysis of the participants’ changes in serum lipids that occurred between the beginning and end of the trials found a greater average improvement in triglycerides and total and LDL cholesterol experienced by those who received vitamin D compared to subjects who received a placebo. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels were not significantly affected.

    “Vitamin D supplementation appeared to have a beneficial effect on reducing serum total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels but not HDL cholesterol levels,” Dr Dibaba concluded. “Vitamin D supplementation may be useful in hypercholesterolemia patients with vitamin D insufficiency who are at high risk of cardiovascular diseases.”

    —D Dye


    Vegans at risk of choline deficiency

    Vegans at risk of choline deficiency September 2, 2019. While the intake of a plant-based diet has significant benefits, vegans may risk being deficient in choline. Although this essential nutrient occurs in low amounts in beans, nuts and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, the best sources of choline are meat, eggs and dairy products. Choline is also made by the liver in small amounts.

    The US Institute of Medicine has recommended minimum daily intakes of choline of 550 milligrams (mg) per day for men, 425 mg per day for women, 450 mg per day for pregnant women and 550 mg per day for breastfeeding women. The European Food Safety Authority recently established similar daily requirements; however, choline intake in Europe as well as North American is still less than recommended. "Given the important physiological roles of choline and authorization of certain health claims, it is questionable why choline has been overlooked for so long in the UK," remarked Dr Emma Derbyshire on August 29, 2019 in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. "Choline is presently excluded from UK food composition databases, major dietary surveys, and dietary guidelines.”

    In an article whose title asks the question, “Could we be overlooking a potential choline crisis in the United Kingdom?” Dr Derbyshire noted that choline is essential for many functions, including neurotransmitter synthesis, cell structure formation and methylation. Insufficient choline intake may play a role in liver disease and impair cognitive function.

    "More needs to be done to educate healthcare professionals and consumers about the importance of a choline-rich diet, and how to achieve this," she concluded. "If choline is not obtained in the levels needed from dietary sources per se then supplementation strategies will be required, especially in relation to key stages of the life cycle, such as pregnancy, when choline intakes are critical to infant development."

    —D Dye


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