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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.


  • Lupus patients could benefit from vitamin D
  • Greater DHA intake associated with better brain imaging results among individuals at risk of Alzheimer disease
  • Higher serum carotenoid levels linked with less visceral fat in women
  • Greater magnesium intake linked with lower risk of liver cancer
  • Metformin could help normalize inflammation in HIV patients
  • Meta-analysis of clinical trials adds evidence to benefit for curcumin in PCOS
  • Insufficient nutrient intake in younger and older women
  • High folate levels associated with reduced risk of mortality during ten-year follow-up
  • How tea lowers blood pressure
  • Umbrella review concludes protective effect for omega 3 against cardiovascular death
  • Magnesium needed by the liver
  • Large study associates low testosterone with greater risk of mortality during 11.3-year median follow-up


    Lupus patients could benefit from vitamin D

    Lupus patients could benefit from vitamin D March 29 2021. An article that appeared on February 8, 2021 in the journal Rheumatology revealed an association between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance among individuals with the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

    A person is considered to have metabolic syndrome when they have three or more adverse health conditions that include elevations in blood pressure, blood glucose, triglycerides and waist circumference, and low levels of HDL cholesterol. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of developing diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease.

    The current study included 1,163 lupus patients enrolled by The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics. Thirty-four percent of the subjects had 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels that were among the lowest one-third of participants at 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) to 14.4 ng/mL.

    Among the 860 patients whose metabolic status could be determined, metabolic syndrome was present among 286. Lupus patients who had low vitamin D levels were likelier to have more severe disease as well as a greater risk of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. Sunlight avoidance due to the increased photosensitivity experienced by lupus patients was suggested to be among the reasons for low vitamin D levels in this group.

    "This is the largest-ever study examining associations between vitamin D levels and metabolic syndrome in SLE; it also has the advantage of being an international cohort with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds - generating results that will be applicable across many settings," announced report coauthor John A. Reynolds of the University of Birmingham.

    "Our results suggest that coexisting physiological abnormalities may contribute to long-term cardiovascular risk early on in SLE,” he remarked. "Further studies could confirm whether restoring vitamin D levels helps to reduce these cardiovascular risk factors and improve quality of life for patients with lupus."


    —D Dye



    Greater DHA intake associated with better brain imaging results among individuals at risk of Alzheimer disease

    Greater DHA intake associated with better brain imaging results among individuals at risk of Alzheimer disease March 26 2021. A report published on March 18, 2021 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition describes an association between increased intake of the omega 3 fatty acid DHA and greater cortical thickness of a region of the brain that is affected by Alzheimer disease. The finding was significant among men and women with two copies of the APOE4 variant of the APOE gene which is associated with a significantly increased risk of Alzheimer disease in comparison with other variants.

    The study included 340 middle-aged, cognitively unimpaired participants in the ALzheimer and Families study, many of whom were relatives of Alzheimer disease patients. One hundred fifty-seven subjects had one copy of APOE4, 61 subjects had two copies and 122 had no copies of the variant. Dietary questionnaires provided information about food consumed, including fish and seafood. Cognitive tests assessed episodic verbal memory and executive and reasoning functions. Magnetic resonance imaging measured cortical thickness in the Alzheimer disease region of interest, white matter hyperintensity burden (which may suggest Alzheimer disease), and the presence of microbleeds and lacunar infarcts.

    While no association between DHA intake and cognitive performance was observed, increasing DHA intake was associated with significantly greater cortical thickness in the region of interest in participants with two APOE4 copies, but not among those with one copy. “This is consistent with the current hypothesis that those subjects at highest risk would obtain the largest benefits from DHA supplementation in the preclinical stage,” the authors remarked.

    “This is the first study that we know of to examine how APOE4 modulates the association between dietary DHA and structural Alzheimer disease features in the preclinical stage,” they wrote. “Further research is needed to explore the effectiveness of interventions involving dietary supplementation with this fatty acid at the preclinical stage of Alzheimer disease, particularly in subjects at high risk of the disease.”


    —D Dye



    Higher serum carotenoid levels linked with less visceral fat in women

    Higher serum carotenoid levels linked with less visceral fat in women March 24 2021. Visceral fat resides within the abdomen, where it surrounds the internal organs. Visceral fat is not only challenging to lose but is associated with an increase in inflammation and disorders such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In fact, high visceral fat area is a greater predictor of cardiovascular disease than waist circumference and body mass index (BMI).

    A study reported on March 11, 2021 in Nutrients revealed an association between higher levels of carotenoids and a reduction in visceral fat area. The investigation included 310 men and 495 women who received an annual health examination as part of the Iwaki Health Promotion Project in Japan. Blood samples were analyzed for the carotenoids alpha carotene, beta carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Visceral fat area was measured using an abdominal bioimpedance method and BMI was calculated from anthropometric data. Diet history questionnaire responses provided information concerning food intake.

    Total carotenoid levels were associated with the intake of leafy green vegetables, carrots and pumpkins, root vegetables and juice. Women’s carotenoid levels were significantly higher than those of men. Higher total carotenoid levels were associated with decreased visceral fat area and BMI in women, independent of fiber intake. Increased beta carotene, beta cryptoxanthin and lutein levels in women were also significantly associated with having a lower visceral fat area. The differences found between men and women in the study led the researchers to suggest that a threshold level of carotenoids might be necessary to influence visceral fat.

    “This is the first study to evaluate the association between serum carotenoids levels and visceral fat area in healthy individuals,” Mai Matsumoto and associates announced. “Ingestion of carotenoid-rich vegetables (particularly lutein and beta carotene) may be associated with lower visceral fat area, a good predictor of cardiovascular disease, especially in women.”


    —D Dye



    Greater magnesium intake linked with lower risk of liver cancer

    Greater magnesium intake linked with lower risk of liver cancer March 22 2021. A study of AARP members revealed a protective effect for increased intake of magnesium against the risk of developing liver cancer. The findings were published in the March 2021 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

    For the current study, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashvilleexamined data from 536,359 participants in the National Institutes of Health-American Association of Retired Persons (NIH-AARP) Diet and Health Study cohort, which is which is one of the largest and longest prospective cohorts that collected data concerning diet and cancer outcomes in the United States. Food frequency questionnaire responses provided by the participants during 1995 to 1996 were analyzed for total magnesium and total calcium intake from supplements and food. The subjects were followed up to December 31, 2011, during which 1,067 cases of primary liver cancer were diagnosed.

    Among those whose total magnesium intake was among the top 25% of participants, there was a 35% lower adjusted risk of developing liver cancer in comparison with participants whose intake was among the lowest 25%. Heavy users of alcohol who had a high magnesium intake experienced an even greater protective effect.

    As potential mechanisms for magnesium against liver cancer, authors Shalija C. Shah, MD, and colleagues observed that the mineral is a cofactor for enzymes involved in DNA replication and repair, gene expression, cell proliferation and differentiation, and other factors.

    “Based on a prospective cohort analysis, we demonstrated that magnesium intake is associated with a lower risk of primary liver cancer, which was more pronounced among moderate and heavy alcohol users,” they concluded. “These findings add clinical value to the current expansive body of translational literature defining the mechanisms through which this essential micronutrient mediates inflammatory and antineoplastic pathways, particularly within the liver.”


    —D Dye



    Metformin could help normalize inflammation in HIV patients

    Metformin could help normalize inflammation in HIV patients March 19 2021. Findings from a trial reported on March 1, 2021 in EBioMedicine suggests that the drug metformin may benefit individuals receiving treatment for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is associated with chronic inflammation. People being treated for HIV experience increased inflammation due to persistent HIV reservoirs in memory T cells, which continually activate the immune system, contributing to a number of diseases and conditions.

    “Currently, antiretroviral therapies inhibit HIV replication by preventing the entry of virion (a complete viral particle) into new cells and its exit from infected cells,” explained Petronela Ancuta, PhD, who is a professor of immunology at the Université de Montréal. “However, one step is still not targeted by these therapies: the multiplication of the viral genome inside the infected cell. Despite antiretroviral therapy, this intracellular viral multiplication causes chronic inflammation.”

    Among its other functions, metformin is an indirect inhibitor of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) molecule, which is a regulator of cellular metabolism and HIV transcription. In vitro research has shown that mTOR inhibition helps prevent HIV replication in the cells of HIV-positive patients.

    The LILAC trial evaluated the effects of metformin administered twice daily for 12 weeks among 22 nondiabetic men and women with HIV treated with antiretroviral therapy. The result was a reduction in mTOR activation in CD4 T cells in the colon and a decrease in markers of inflammation and intestinal damage. The drug was well tolerated.

    While metformin did not affect the viral DNA reservoir size in peripheral blood T cells and the colon in the current study, Dr Ancuta anticipates that lengthier treatment could have an impact.

    “We're going to launch a new randomized study on more than 58 participants in which metformin will be administered over a longer period,” she announced.


    —D Dye



    Meta-analysis of clinical trials adds evidence to benefit for curcumin in PCOS

    Meta-analysis of clinical trials adds evidence to benefit for curcumin in PCOS March 17 2021. Findings from a systematic review and meta-analysis reported on February 21, 2021 in the journal Nutrients suggests a metabolic benefit for curcumin in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disorder characterized by higher than average levels of male hormones, ovulatory dysfunction and polycystic ovaries. Women with PCOS have an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and other disorders.

    Researchers in Taiwan analyzed three randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials that compared the effects of curcumin supplementation to a placebo among a total of 168 women with PCOS. Curcumin doses ranged from 500 milligrams consumed one to three times per day. Trial durations ranged from six to twelve weeks. Fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and insulin resistance and sensitivity assessments were reported in all studies.

    Significantly greater improvements in fasting glucose, fasting insulin, insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity were observed in curcumin-supplemented women compared to those who received a placebo. Women who received curcumin also experienced greater improvements in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and total cholesterol in comparison with the placebo groups when the two studies that reported these factors were analyzed.

    Among several potential mechanisms in support of the findings, authors Yung-Jiun Chien and colleagues note that curcumin stimulates insulin-mediated glucose uptake by the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway, which upregulates the translocation of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) to the membrane of fat cells and skeletal muscles. In addition, curcumin activates AMPK, which suppresses the production of glucose in liver cells and also enhances GLUT4 translocation.

    “Curcumin may improve glycemic control and lipid metabolism in patients with PCOS and metabolic abnormality without significant adverse effects,” the authors concluded. “Further studies are advocated to investigate the potential effects of curcumin on hyperandrogenism.”


    —D Dye



    Insufficient nutrient intake in younger and older women

    Insufficient nutrient intake in younger and older women March 15 2021.The April 2021 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a report of a recent study that revealed low intake of several nutrients among a significant percentage of childbearing-aged and menopausal women.

    The current study included 6,894 women who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) What We Eat in America component conducted from 2011-2016. Dietary recall and dietary supplement questionnaire responses provided information concerning the intake of nutrients from food and supplements.

    Among women of childbearing age, 50% had an intake of vitamin A from food that was less than the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR, the amount estimated to meet the needs of half of the people in an age group). For vitamins C, D and E, calcium and magnesium, the percentages were 47%, 97%, 92%, 49% and 62%. A significant percentage of inadequate intake of these nutrients was also found among perimenopausal and menopausal women. Percentages of women with inadequate nutrient intake from food plus supplements were less than those of women whose intake was derived from food alone.

    While sodium intake exceeded the chronic disease risk reduction intake amount among most women, few women exceeded the upper limit for any other nutrient from food or food and supplements combined.

    Blood biomarker levels indicated that a substantial portion of women are at risk of vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron and iodine insufficiency or deficiency.

    “The use of dietary supplements has been shown to help increase nutrient intake, reduce inadequacies, and is associated with more favorable health and lifestyle choices,” Prasad P. Devarshi and colleagues wrote. “Importantly, supplement usage does not substantially increase the risk of nutrient overconsumption.”

    “Our findings, along with published literature, show that dietary supplement usage may be one important way of overcoming nutrient inadequacies in women of various life stages.”


    —D Dye



    High folate levels associated with reduced risk of mortality during ten-year follow-up

    High folate levels associated with reduced risk of mortality during ten-year follow-up March 12 2021. The March 2021 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reported the findings of researchers at Kyushu University of a lower risk of mortality during more than a decade among men and women who had high levels of the B vitamin folate.

    The study included 3,050 Japanese residents aged 40 years and older enrolled in the Hisayama Study, which was initiated in 1961. Participants in the current study, who completed a baseline survey and underwent health examinations during 2002–2003, were followed until November 2012. Blood samples collected upon enrollment were analyzed for serum folate and vitamin B12 levels.

    During the median 10.2-year follow-up, there were 336 deaths. Seventy-six participants died from cardiovascular diseases, 136 from cancer, 59 from respiratory disease and 65 from other causes. In comparison with those whose folate levels were among the lowest one-third of the participants at 8.6 nanomoles per liter or less, subjects whose folate levels were among the top third at 12.5 nanomoles per liter or higher had a 39% lower risk of dying during follow-up. The methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR C677T) genotype, which affects folic acid metabolism, did not significantly modify the protective effect of a higher serum folate level. Vitamin B12 was not significantly associated with mortality in the adjusted final analysis.

    “These findings raise the possibility that higher intakes of folate may reduce the mortality risk,” Sanmei Chen and colleagues wrote. “Because blood folate concentrations are known to be affected by dietary intake of folate and the MTHFR genotype, our observation suggests the importance of the non-genetic factor of serum folate concentrations (i.e., dietary folate intake). Together with the previously reported results, our findings reinforce the existing evidence regarding the reduction in all-cause mortality risk that can be achieved by increasing folate intake.”


    —D Dye



    How tea lowers blood pressure

    How tea lowers blood pressure March 10 2021. The March 6, 2021 issue of Cellular Physiology & Biochemistry reported the discovery of researchers at the University of California, Irvine of a mechanism used by tea catechin compounds to lower blood pressure.

    “We recently showed that herbs with hypotensive properties were unified in their ability to activate the vascular and neuronal voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channel, KCNQ5,” Kaitlyn E. Redford and colleagues wrote. “Here, we hypothesized that KCNQ5 activation might underlie purported hypotensive properties of tea.”

    Activation of KCNQ5 in smooth muscle cells allows potassium ions to diffuse from the cells, thereby reducing cellular excitability and relaxing blood vessels. "We found by using computer modeling and mutagenesis studies that specific catechins bind to the foot of the voltage sensor, which is the part of KCNQ5 that allows the channel to open in response to cellular excitation,” explained lead researcher Geoffrey Abbott, PhD. “This binding allows the channel to open much more easily and earlier in the cellular excitation process."

    KCNQ5 is also expressed in parts of the brain, where it regulates electrical activity and neuron signaling. The ability of tea catechins to cross the blood-brain barrier could enable the activation of KCNQ5 to treat brain excitability disorders caused by KCNQ5 gene variants that impair potassium channel functions.

    Dr Abbott’s team discovered that green tea warmed to 35 degrees activated KCNQ5 more effectively and that administering black tea and milk to cells containing the KCNQ5 channel prevented KCNQ5 activation. "We don't believe this means one needs to avoid milk when drinking tea to take advantage of the beneficial properties of tea,” Dr Abbott remarked. “We are confident that the environment in the human stomach will separate the catechins from the proteins and other molecules in milk that would otherwise block catechins' beneficial effects."


    —D Dye



    Umbrella review concludes protective effect for omega 3 against cardiovascular death

    Umbrella review concludes protective effect for omega 3 against cardiovascular death March 8 2021. A review of meta-analyses of clinical trials and cohort studies published in the February 2021 issue of the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences added more evidence to a protective effect for omega 3 fatty acid supplementation against death from cardiovascular causes.

    H. Choi of Yonsei University College of Medicine Korea and colleagues selected 29 articles for their review, among which 31 meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials and four meta-analyses of observational cohort studies were identified as statistically significant. The studies’ cardiovascular outcomes included cardiovascular, cardiac, and coronary events; cardiovascular, cardiac, and coronary deaths; arrhythmia or sudden death; myocardial infarction; stroke or transient ischemic attack; postoperative atrial fibrillation; recurrent atrial fibrillation; and a composite outcome of total mortality from major cardiovascular causes.

    A significantly lower risk of experiencing the composite outcome of total mortality from major cardiovascular causes was found among subjects who received omega 3 fatty acid supplements in comparison with those who did not receive the supplements. The protective association was still significant after restricting the analysis to large trials that included over 1,000 participants.

    “To the best of our knowledge, an umbrella review focusing only omega 3 effects on cardiovascular outcomes has not been conducted,” Dr Choi and colleagues wrote. “In particular, in this current review study, we aimed to identify true associations between omega 3 fatty acids and cardiovascular outcome more strictly by excluding biases and performing subgroup analyses.”

    “Our umbrella review indicates that omega 3 fatty acids supplementation reduces overall mortality from cardiovascular causes,” they concluded. “Even though a few large randomized clinical trials showed no evidence of clinical effect of omega 3 on cardiovascular outcomes, our comprehensive review study still provides a clue of clinical utility of omega 3 fatty acids supplementation.”


    —D Dye



    Magnesium needed by the liver

    Magnesium needed by the liver March 5 2021. An article appearing on February 8, 2021 in the Journal of Hepatology described how a protein that transports magnesium out of the liver could be targeted to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

    “Dietary imbalances, such as a low intake of magnesium, are recognized as the root cause of diseases,” wrote Jorge Simón at the Center for Cooperative Research in Biosciences and his colleagues. “Its ionic form, Mg2+, is the most abundant divalent cation in the cell and is required as a cofactor for over 300 enzymatic reactions. An intricate network of Mg2+ transporters participate in its uptake and excretion, allowing its flux across cellular membranes, thus impacting Mg2+ homeostasis and distribution.”

    The researchers identified a protein known as cyclin M4 (CNNM4), which regulates liver magnesium levels by exporting the mineral out of the liver, as a potential target for NASH. In humans with the disease, greater expression of the protein was observed in comparison with that of healthy individuals. "These patients have an altered magnesium export machinery that increases the vulnerability of their liver to suffer inflammatory processes, development of fibrosis and fat deposition," lead researcher Maria Luz Martínez-Chantar explained. "This study also presents a novel therapeutic approach based on GalNac-siRNA technology that specifically targets the liver by modulating CNNM4 levels. The CNNM4 molecule developed from Silence Therapeutics' proprietary mRNAi GOLD™ (GalNAc Oligonucleotide Discovery) Platform effectively protects from liver pathology in preclinical models of steatohepatitis."

    "The study underscores the importance of magnesium balance for supporting liver health,” added coauthor Daniela Buccella, who is an associate professor of chemistry at New York University. “With insight into how this essential metal affects lipid metabolism at the cellular level, possible therapeutic targets for this and other liver pathologies start emerging."


    —D Dye



    Large study associates low testosterone with greater risk of mortality during 11.3-year median follow-up

    Large study associates low testosterone with greater risk of mortality during 11.3-year median follow-up March 1 2021. The February 2021 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism published a study that found a greater mortality rate from any cause during follow-up among men with low levels of the hormone testosterone in comparison with those who had higher levels. The study also found an increased rate of premature mortality among men with higher levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a protein that binds to testosterone and estrogen, thereby controlling the amount of testosterone that can be used by the body.

    The current investigation included 149,436 men between the ages of 40 and 69 years who enrolled in the UK Biobank from March 2006 to October 2010. “Previous studies of testosterone and mortality have been smaller, generally analyzing between one to five thousand men,” the authors noted.

    Blood samples collected upon enrollment were analyzed for testosterone and SHBG. The subjects were followed from recruitment through April 2020.

    During the follow-up period, 149,436 deaths were documented, including 1,925 from cardiovascular disease and 4,927 from cancer. Compared to men whose testosterone levels were among the top 20% of participants, those whose testosterone levels were among the lowest 20% had a 14% greater risk of dying from any cause and a 20% greater risk of dying from cancer during follow-up. Reductions in calculated free testosterone levels were also associated with mortality.

    Men whose SHBG levels were among the lowest 20% had a 32% lower risk of all-cause mortality, a 20% lower risk of cancer mortality and a 30% lower risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease compared to those whose levels were highest.

    “Assessing both testosterone and SHBG provides information on key health outcomes in men, warranting further studies to explore causality and potential underlying mechanisms,” the authors concluded.


    —D Dye


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