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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.


  • Lower risk of heart failure associated with greater magnesium intake
  • Fish oil estimated to prevent cardiovascular events in 1 out of 21 US patients
  • Going easy on the salt could help support healthy immune function
  • AMPK activation could help maintain muscle mass
  • Supplement use associated with improved survival among cancer patients
  • Sufficient vitamin D levels associated with improved chances of walking after hip surgery
  • CoQ10 supports breast cancer patients’ quality of life
  • Bacterial, viral patterns identify cancer
  • Indoor athletes may risk being vitamin D deficient
  • Probiotic could improve immunotherapy response
  • Fish oil supplementation associated with reduced risk of mortality during nine-year median follow-up
  • Nobiletin reverses obesity and related effects in mouse model
  • Calorie restriction slows aging-related changes at a cellular level



    Lower risk of heart failure associated with greater magnesium intake

    Lower risk of heart failure associated with greater magnesium intake March 30 2020. Research findings reported in the April 7, 2020 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association reveal a reduced risk of heart failure among participants in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) who had a greater intake of magnesium compared to those whose intake was low.

    The Women’s Health Initiative enrolled 161,808 postmenopausal women in centers across the United States from 1993 to 1998. The current study evaluated data from 97,725 women who were free of heart failure upon enrollment. Questionnaires completed by the participants after enrolling were evaluated for magnesium intake from food and supplements. During a median follow-up period of 8.1 years, 2,153 hospitalizations for heart failure occurred.

    Compared to the top 25% of magnesium consumers, who consumed an average of 461.1 milligrams (mg) per day, women whose intake was among the lowest 25% at 207.5 milligrams per day had a 26% greater adjusted risk of heart failure. When magnesium from food alone was analyzed, the risk of heart failure for the lowest consumers was 32% higher than the top group. In a separate analysis of a subgroup of women, low magnesium intake from food was associated with a type of heart failure characterized by reduced ejection fraction.

    “Our total magnesium intake analysis, which incorporated magnesium supplements, showed slight attenuation of the association between dietary magnesium and incident heart failure and could serve as preliminary data to explore how supplemental magnesium intake may attenuate the risk of heart failure,” the authors remarked. “It is plausible that habitually high intake of magnesium may eventually increase serum magnesium levels as a reflection of higher body stores to provide protective effects against heart failure. Future studies are needed to further explore how magnesium supplementation may relate to heart failure risk.”

    —D Dye




    Fish oil estimated to prevent cardiovascular events in 1 out of 21 US patients

    Fish oil estimated to prevent cardiovascular events in 1 out of 21 US patients March 27 2020. Results of a statistical analysis scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology/World Congress of Cardiology virtual conference, held March 28 to March 30, 2020, suggest a significant protective benefit for prescription fish oil containing the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) against the risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attack and stroke.

    The analysis included data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and utilized inclusion criteria from the REDUCE-IT trial led by Harvard University researchers. REDUCE-IT’s results, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2019, revealed an association between supplementation with icosapent ethyl (a prescription fish oil) and a 25% reduction in cardiovascular events among people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes and high triglycerides, compared with a placebo. The current analysis predicts that use of the fish oil could prevent least 70,000 heart attacks, strokes and other adverse cardiovascular events every year in the U.S.

    "Our analysis extends the findings of the REDUCE-IT trial by estimating its potential impact on the U.S. population," stated lead researcher Nathan D. Wong, PhD, of the Heart Disease Prevention Program in the Division of Cardiology at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine. "By using inclusion criteria and cardiovascular disease event rates from the REDUCE-IT trial and applying it to data on US adults from NHANES, we were able to estimate the beneficial impact icosapent ethyl could have on preventing initial and total cardiovascular events in eligible U.S. adults with cardiovascular disease or diabetes and multiple risk factors."

    "When you consider that for every 21 patients treated with icosapent ethyl you can spare a cardiovascular event, you begin to see the implications of our results," he added.

    —D Dye




    Going easy on the salt could help support healthy immune function

    Going easy on the salt could help support healthy immune function March 25 2020. A study reported on March 25, 2020 in Science Translational Medicine suggests that lowering salt (sodium chloride) intake may be one way to improve immune function. The finding counters the hypothesis of other researchers, based on the results of animal experiments, that salt is an immune enhancer. "Our results show that this generalization is not accurate," stated the current report’s lead author Katarzyna Jobin, of the University of Würzburg.

    "We have now been able to prove for the first time that excessive salt intake also significantly weakens an important arm of the immune system." announced Dr Christian Kurts of the University of Bonn’s Institute of Experimental Immunology.

    Dr Kurts and colleagues tested the effects of a high salt diet in mice and humans. Mice infected with listeria (a bacteria which can contaminate food) that received a high salt diet had 100 to 1,000 times more of the bacteria in their spleens and livers than animals that consumed normal diets. And in humans who consumed an extra six grams salt per day—the amount in two typical fast food meals—immune cells in the blood known as granulocytes were less effective against bacteria and levels of glucocorticoids increased.

    When a high amount of salt it is consumed, it is filtered by the kidneys, whose sodium chloride sensor activates salt excretion in the urine. This sensor is also responsible for the accumulation of glucocorticoids that inhibit the function of granulocytes—scavenger cells that primarily attack bacteria. When granulocyte function is impaired, infections are more severe.

    "Only through investigations in an entire organism were we able to uncover the complex control circuits that lead from salt intake to this immunodeficiency," Dr Kurts noted. "Our work therefore also illustrates the limitations of experiments purely with cell cultures."

    —D Dye




    AMPK activation could help maintain muscle mass

    AMPK activation could help maintain muscle mass March 23 2020. Research conducted at the University of Birmingham indicates that activation of an energy-sensing molecule known as AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) could help people maintain physical function.

    Through the development of a tool that enabled the study of the cells’ energy-producing organelles known as mitochondria, Alex P. Seabright and colleagues were able to observe that AMPK promotes the breakdown of damaged mitochondria, a process known as mitophagy. Aged or damaged mitochondria that can build up in the muscle cells of older individuals contribute to a decline in muscle function.

    The method developed by the research team involves the use of fluorescent tags that cause the mitochondria to appear as gold when healthy and red while breaking down. Activation of AMPK was shown to increase this breakdown, thereby improving the cells’ mitochondrial health. The findings provided by the research, reported on March 22, 2019 in the journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB Journal), will aid in the development of compounds that target AMPK.

    "We know that exercise and diet regimes can be used to help people maintain their muscle mass and physical capabilities in later life,” Seabright observed. “But improving our understanding as to why muscle loss occurs with aging will aid the development of targeted pharmacological interventions to help people to stay physically capable for longer."

    "The idea of targeting AMPK with drugs is not new,” noted project Leader Dr Yu-Chiang La. “Many studies, including some of our previous work, demonstrate that AMPK activation in muscle elicits many beneficial effects for treating type 2 diabetes. As a consequence, many pharmaceutical companies are currently working to develop preclinical compounds that activate AMPK. We hope that our new discovery will accelerate targeted drug development to help identify new and safe compounds to activate this key molecule in muscle.”

    —D Dye




    Supplement use associated with improved survival among cancer patients

    Supplement use associated with improved survival among cancer patients March 20 2020. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in Nutrition and Cancer on March 9, 2020 found increased survival following a cancer diagnosis among patients who consumed specific nutritional supplements.

    Researchers at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens selected 16 observational studies and nine randomized clinical trials that included a total of 32,017 cancer survivors for their review. Supplements evaluated in the studies included beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, D and E, lycopene, zinc, selenium, calcium, antioxidant combinations, multivitamins (with or without minerals) and/or various supplements combined. Follow-up periods averaged 1.8 to 13.1 years.

    Supplementing with calcium was associated with a 12% lower risk of dying from any cause during the studies’ follow-up periods, as well as a 29% lower risk of dying from cancer and a 34% lower risk of death among survivors of colorectal cancer in comparison with not supplementing with the mineral. Vitamin D supplementation was associated with a 14% lower mortality risk as ascertained from three observational studies and two randomized trials.

    Supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E was associated with 21%, 15% and 24% lower risks of mortality during follow-up among breast cancer survivors. Multivitamin, vitamin C and vitamin E supplementation were associated with 21%, 24% and 31% lower risks of cancer recurrence among this group.

    “Our results indicate a potentially beneficial role of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on cancer prognosis,” Afroditi Kanellopoulou and colleagues conclude. “Although meeting the nutritional needs through a balanced and varied healthy diet is of utmost importance for cancer survivors as for the rest of the population, it is also essential for future studies to provide further evidence on the role of dietary supplement use after cancer diagnosis in order to develop evidence-based recommendations specially tailored for cancer survivors.”

    —D Dye




    Sufficient vitamin D levels associated with improved chances of walking after hip surgery

    Senior couple in the park on an autumns day March 18 2020. A study conducted at Rutgers University found an association between having sufficient levels of vitamin D and a greater ability to walk without assistance following hip fracture repair. The article appeared on February 18, 2020 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

    The study included 290 patients who were recovering from hip fracture repair surgery. Mobility and mortality were evaluated at 30 and 60 days postoperatively. Blood samples were analyzed for 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], intact parathyroid hormone and serum albumin. Geriatric nutritional risk index (GNRI) scores, calculated from albumin and other values, classified the patients as having good nutritional status, some risk or major/moderate nutritional risk. "This matters because vitamin D deficiency and malnutrition are common disorders in elderly patients with hip fractures and often occur together since both are complications of poor nutrition," noted corresponding author Sue Shapses of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

    At 30 days, subjects whose vitamin D levels were 12 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) to less than 20 ng/mL were over two and a half times likelier to be walking than those whose levels were less than 12 ng/mL. For those whose levels were 20 ng/mL to less than 30 ng/mL, the chances of walking were nearly three and a half times greater. Subjects with higher 25(OH)D levels had greater mobility than the lowest group at 60 days. Low GNRI scores were associated with decreased mobility at 30 days but not at 60 days.

    "An important next step is learning how vitamin D affects mobility," Dr Shapses stated. "For example, it is not clear if severe vitamin D deficiency is associated with direct effects on muscle, cognition and/or other organ systems."

    —D Dye




    CoQ10 supports breast cancer patients’ quality of life

    CoQ10 supports breast cancer patients’ quality of life March 16 2020. A double-blind, randomized trial found improvement in several aspects of quality of life in association with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplementation among women being treated for breast cancer. The results were published on February 20, 2020 in the journal Psychology Research and Behavior Management

    The trial included thirty women being treated for breast cancer who received 100 milligrams CoQ10 or a placebo daily for eight weeks. Responses to questionnaires administered at the beginning and end of the study provided the investigators with information concerning the participants’ quality of life. A separate questionnaire assessed physical activity. Three-day dietary records were used to evaluate food intake.

    At the end of the study, women who received CoQ10 had better physical, emotional and cognitive functioning, and less appetite loss than the placebo group. No significant changes in health status or symptoms were noted at the end of the eight-week period.

    Among potential mechanisms supporting the benefits revealed by the study, authors Seyed Ahmad Hosseini of Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences in Iran and colleagues noted that CoQ10 functions as an antioxidant, membrane stabilizer and regulator of the mitochondria (which use CoQ10 in the production of energy). According to the authors, CoQ10 treatment decreases fatigue, depression and pain sensitivity via anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective effects. It has also been shown to reduce muscle weakness, while improving walking distance, exercise tolerance and oxygen utilization.

    “In this study, we discovered proof demonstrating significant effects of CoQ10 on physical, social, and mental conditions in women with breast cancer,” the authors concluded. “In short, the supplemented patients showed better quality of life at the end of the study. Separate studies should be conducted in different age-groups and larger populations for longer periods to generalize the evidence gained.”

    —D Dye




    Bacterial, viral patterns identify cancer

    Bacterial, viral patterns identify cancer March 13 2020. Research reported on March 11, 2020 in Nature has determined a new way to identify cancer by analyzing blood levels of various microbes in the blood.

    "Almost all previous cancer research efforts have assumed tumors are sterile environments, and ignored the complex interplay human cancer cells may have with the bacteria, viruses and other microbes that live in and on our bodies," commented corresponding author Rob Knight, PhD, of the University of California, La Jolla. "The number of microbial genes in our bodies vastly outnumbers the number of human genes, so it shouldn't be surprising that they give us important clues to our health."

    Acting on a finding reported in Science in 2017 of an abundance of microbes in pancreatic tumors that contributed to the breakdown of the primary chemotherapeutic agent administered to their human hosts, first author Gregory D. Poore sought to investigate the possibility of a greater role of these microbes in cancers. Examination of data from The Cancer Genome Atlas for 33 cancers revealed unique microbial signatures for most major cancer types.

    The team then ascertained the microbial signatures of plasma samples from prostate cancer, lung cancer and melanoma patients and compared them to samples from healthy subjects. They found that the signatures previously identified could discriminate cancer-free subjects from those with the disease and distinguish between different types of cancer with a high level of accuracy. "The ability, in a single tube of blood, to have a comprehensive profile of the tumor's DNA (nature) as well as the DNA of the patient's microbiota (nurture), so to speak, is an important step forward in better understanding host-environment interactions in cancer," commented coauthor Sandip Pravin Patel, MD.

    "This new understanding of the way microbial populations shift with cancer could open a completely new therapeutic avenue," coauthor Sandrine Miller-Montgomery, PhD, speculated. "We now know the microbes are there, but what are they doing? And could we manipulate or mimic these microbes to treat cancer?"

    —D Dye




    Indoor athletes may risk being vitamin D deficient

    Indoor athletes may risk being vitamin D deficient March 11 2020. Results of a “quasi-experimental trial” reported on January 31, 2020 in Nutrients suggest that people who regularly engage in indoor athletics may be at risk of having inadequate vitamin D levels.

    The trial included 20 male and female collegiate basketball players at George Mason University whose serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were measured prior to preseason training. Participants whose vitamin D levels were classified as insufficient at less than 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) were given 10,000 IU vitamin D3 per day, those whose levels were sufficient at 30 ng/mL to 50 ng/mL received 5,000 IU and subjects whose levels were optimal at greater than 50 ng/mL received no vitamin D3. Serum vitamin D levels were reassessed approximately five months later during post season.

    The group that received 10,000 IU vitamin D had an average improvement of 14 ng/mL vitamin D while those that received 5,000 IU experienced a reduction of 3.72 ng/mL. Levels declined by 16.66 ng/mL among participants who received no vitamin D.

    "Many athletes are now engaging in supplementation and we don't currently know what the optimal or safe amount of supplementation may be," commented coauthor Sina Gallo of George Mason University's Department of Nutrition and Food Studies. "Prior studies that have addressed this topic typically report data from nonathletic, older populations. Because athletes may not get the necessary vitamin D through natural dietary sources, supplementation offers a safe, affordable, efficacious method to combat deficiencies."

    "Overall, our findings showed that 13 of the 20 (65%) participants were vitamin D insufficient at baseline," stated corresponding author Margaret Jones. "This result is consistent with a recent systematic review and meta-analysis wherein 56% of a total sample of 2,000 athletes residing in nine different countries including the United States had inadequate levels of vitamin D."

    —D Dye




    Probiotic could improve immunotherapy response

    Probiotic could improve immunotherapy response March 09 2020. An article appearing on March 6, 2020 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine reported that probiotic bacteria can travel to tumors to boost the effects of immunotherapy.

    “Most studies focus on how intestinal microbiota influence cancer immunotherapy through activating gut immunity,” wrote authors Yaoyao Shi and colleagues. “However, immunotherapies related to innate responses such as CD47 blockade rely on the rapid immune responses within the tumor microenvironment.

    Inhibition of the protein CD47 (which is expressed on many cancer cell surfaces) enables the immune system to attack tumors. However, research has found that some animals do not respond to anti-CD47 treatment. In the current study, it was observed that among two groups of mice that had different gut microbiomes, only one group responded to CD47 blockade, yet treating this group with antibiotics blocked their ability to respond. Giving the probiotic Bifidobacteria to the original nonresponders resultedindetection of the probiotic in tumor tissues a week later and the tumors were shown to respond to CD47 blockade.

    "This study finds that some of the bacteria from the gut travel to the tumor and get into the cells, or microenvironment, where the bacteria facilitate CD47 blockade's ability to attack the tumor,” reported co-lead researcher Yang-Xin Fu of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “We found it does that via the immune signaling pathway called stimulator of interferon genes (STING)."

    "Our study demonstrates that a specific member of the gut microbial population enhances the anti-tumor efficacy of anti-CD47 by colonizing the tumor," he explained. "Administration of specific bacterial species or their engineered progenies may be a novel and effective strategy to modulate various antitumor immunotherapies."

    "It is very possible that more than one type of gut microbiota could enhance tumor immunity in a similar way and we would like to investigate that," he added.

    —D Dye




    Fish oil supplementation associated with reduced risk of mortality during nine-year median follow-up

    Fish oil supplementation associated with reduced risk of mortality during nine-year median follow-up March 04 2020. An analysis reported in The BMJ on March 5, 2020 revealed a lower risk of premature mortality and cardiovascular disease events among fish oil users in comparison with men and women who didn’t supplement their diets with the oil.

    The study included 427,678 subjects aged 40 to 69 years upon enrollment between 2006 and 2010 in UK Biobank, a population-based study of men and women residing in the United Kingdom. Questionnaires completed at the beginning of the study provided information concerning supplement use and other data. Hospital records and death certificates documented mortality during follow-up, which concluded at the end of 2018.

    Thirty-one percent of the subjects reported the use of fish oil at enrollment. During follow-up, fish oil users had a 7% lower adjusted risk of experiencing cardiovascular events, a 16% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, a 20% lower mortality risk from heart attack and a 13% lower risk of dying from any cause than those who did not use fish oil. The protective effect of fish oil against cardiovascular event risk was greater for those with hypertension.  As potential mechanisms, the authors remarked that omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil have shown beneficial effects on blood pressure, triglycerides, heart rate, endothelial function, inflammation and blood clotting, as well as help to protect against cardiac arrhythmias.

    “In our study involving nearly half a million individuals from the UK, habitual fish oil supplementation was associated with a significantly lower all-cause mortality and incidence of, and mortality from, cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarction,” Zhi-Hao Li of Southern Medical University in Guangdong, China and colleagues write. “Fish oil supplementation could be an inexpensive, quick, and safe way of increasing an individual’s omega 3 fatty acid intake.”

    —D Dye




    Nobiletin reverses obesity and related effects in mouse model

    Nobiletin reverses obesity and related effects in mouse model March 04 2020. The March 2020 issue of the Journal of Lipid Research reported an association between supplementation with the flavonoid nobiletin, found in tangerines, with protection against obesity and some of its effects.

    Murray W. Huff, PhD, and colleagues gave mice a diet that was high in fat and cholesterol with or without nobiletin. Animals that received the flavonoid failed to develop obesity and related conditions that included fatty liver, abnormal lipid levels and insulin resistance—all of which occurred in mice that did not receive nobiletin. "We went on to show that we can also intervene with nobiletin," added Dr Huff. "We've shown that in mice that already have all the negative symptoms of obesity, we can use nobiletin to reverse those symptoms, and even start to regress plaque build-up in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis."

    The researchers had hypothesized that nobiletin’s mechanism of action involved activation of a regulator of fat metabolism known as AMPK-activated protein kinase (AMPK); however, in mice that lacked liver AMPK and in animals with fat cell-specific AMPK deficiency, energy expenditure improved with nobiletin supplementation to the same extent as in mice that did not have these genetic modifications, which demonstrated that nobiletin’s effects are independent of AMPK activation. "This result told us that nobiletin is not acting on AMP kinase and is bypassing this major regulator of how fat is used in the body," Dr Huff stated.

    The finding indicates that nobiletin may exert its beneficial effects without interfering with drugs that act on AMPK, such as metformin.

    "Obesity and its resulting metabolic syndromes are a huge burden to our health care system, and we have very few interventions that have been shown to work effectively," Dr Huff concluded. "We need to continue this emphasis on the discovery of new therapeutics."

    —D Dye




    Calorie restriction slows aging-related changes at a cellular level

    Calorie restriction slows aging-related changes at a cellular level March 02 2020. An article published on February 27, 2020 in the journal Cell documented research that has identified cellular effects of calorie restriction.

    Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte of the Salk Institute’s Gene Expression Laboratory and colleagues compared a total of 168,703 cells of 40 types in rats that consumed normal diets and rats that received 30% fewer calorie from the ages of 18 through 27 months, which is equivalent to humans aged 50 to 70 years. Cells were derived from aorta, brain, bone marrow, fat, liver, kidney and muscle tissue.

    Fifty-seven percent of cellular changes observed in rats that received normal diets failed to occur in cells derived from rats on restricted diets. Notably, immune cells in the majority of tissues increased during aging in nonrestricted rats but remained the same in the restricted group. Anti-inflammatory genes in the brown fat of rats given a restricted diet were similar to those of young animals. "The primary discovery in the current study is that the increase in the inflammatory response during aging could be systematically repressed by caloric restriction" stated co-corresponding author Professor Jing Qu, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    "People say that 'you are what you eat,' and we're finding that to be true in lots of ways," commented coauthor Concepcion Rodriguez Esteban of the Salk Institute. "The state of your cells as you age clearly depends on your interactions with your environment, which includes what and how much you eat."

    "We already knew that calorie restriction increases life span, but now we've shown all the changes that occur at a single-cell level to cause that," Dr Belmonte remarked. "This gives us targets that we may eventually be able to act on with drugs to treat aging in humans."

    —D Dye


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