What's Hot

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.


  • Saw palmetto boosts testosterone synthesis
  • Green tea drinking slows hippocampal decline
  • Low Omega-3 Index comparable to smoking as predictor of premature mortality
  • Coffee drinkers have lower risk of liver disease
  • NAC for STEMI
  • Multivitamin use associated with lower hip fracture risk
  • How omega 3 helps protect against depression
  • How DHA fights cancer
  • Vitamin D could help prevent opioid addiction
  • Scientists describe fish oil’s ability to combat antibiotic resistance
  • Breast microbiome modified by diet, fish oil
  • Boosting SIRT6 gene expression extends life expectancy in mice


    Saw palmetto boosts testosterone synthesis

    Saw palmetto boosts testosterone synthesis June 30 2021. The June 2021 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Food reported the finding of a beneficial effect for saw palmetto against symptoms of andropause in rats.

    “Andropause, the male equivalent of menopause, is the set of symptoms caused by the age-related deficiency in male hormones that begins to occur in men in their late 40s to early 50s,” Jeong Moon Yun and colleagues explained. “The symptoms of andropause include physical, psychological, and sexual problems, such as fatigue, increased body fat, decreased muscle strength and sexual function, depression, and memory loss.”

    Dr Yun and associates evaluated the effects of an extract of saw palmetto in aged rats and in Leydig cells (in which testosterone biosynthesis occurs) subjected to oxidative stress.

    In rats, one of three doses of saw palmetto extract was administered for four weeks. A control group of animals received no treatment. At the end of the treatment period, saw palmetto supplemented rats had significantly less fat tissue weight gain and total weight gain compared to the controls, without a gain in other tissue weight. Serum triglycerides, total cholesterol and the LDL to VLDL cholesterol ratio were also lower in the supplemented groups. Serum total and free testosterone and sperm counts were higher, and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and 5 alpha-reductase levels were lower in all supplemented groups in comparison with the controls. In tests of muscle endurance, rats that received saw palmetto had longer swimming times compared to the control group.

    In Leydig cells, the administration of testosterone lowered 5 alpha-reductase (which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone) and increased total testosterone.

    “We suggest that supplementation of saw palmetto may relieve the symptoms of andropause syndrome, including decreased spermatogenesis and muscle endurance and metabolic syndrome by increasing testosterone biosynthesis and bioavailability,” the authors concluded.


    —D Dye



    Green tea drinking slows hippocampal decline

    Green tea drinking slows hippocampal decline June 28 2021. The hippocampus is an area of the brain that is associated with memory and learning. A decline in hippocampal volume that occurs during aging has been associated with Alzheimer's disease and non-Alzheimer's dementias. However, findings from a study reported in the September-October 2021 issue of the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics suggest that drinking green tea may help slow some of this decline.

    The investigation included 862 men and 831 women who participated a prospective study that was part of the National Institute for Longevity Sciences-Longitudinal Study of Aging project in Japan. Dietary records provided information concerning green tea intake. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations assessed gray matter, white matter and hippocampal volume at the beginning of the study and at the end of the two-year follow-up.

    While no associations with green tea were observed with gray matter or white matter yearly rate of decline, greater green tea intake was associated with a reduction in hippocampal volume decline, particularly among women and participants who were 65 years of age and older. Each additional 100 milliliters per day of green tea consumption was associated with a 5% decrease in annual hippocampal atrophy. Additionally, mini-mental state examination (MMSE) testing among participants aged 60 years and older revealed a smaller annual reduction in scores in association with greater green tea intake.

    "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the association between green tea consumption and brain structural changes in humans," Shu Zhang and colleagues announced. "This prospective cohort study conducted in 1693 community-dwelling middle-aged and older Japanese individuals suggested a negative dose-response association between green tea consumption and annual hippocampal atrophy, especially among older people and among women, which was accompanied by a smaller decrease in MMSE score."


    —D Dye



    Low Omega-3 Index comparable to smoking as predictor of premature mortality

    Low Omega-3 Index comparable to smoking as predictor of premature mortality June 25 2021. Research reported on June 16, 2021 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed a significant association between having a low levels of omega 3 fatty acids and a greater risk of mortality during an 11-year median follow-up period. "Being a current smoker (at age 65) is predicted to subtract more than four years of life (compared with not smoking), a life shortening equivalent to having a low vs. a high Omega-3 Index," lead researcher Michael McBurney, PhD, reported.

    The Omega-3 index measures red blood cell membrane levels of the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.

    The study included 2,240 participants in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Dr McBurney and colleagues analyzed the association between mortality during follow up and Framingham Risk Score risk factors plus 28 fatty acid metrics. The Framingham Risk Score, which was developed from data provided by the Framingham Heart Study, is based on eight cardiovascular disease risk factors, including age, sex, smoking, treatment for high blood pressure, diabetes status, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol.

    Four red blood cell fatty acid measurements that included the Omega-3 Index appeared in at least five models as significant predictors of all-cause mortality. "In the final combined model, smoking and the Omega-3 Index seem to be the most easily modified risk factors," Dr McBurney stated.

    "The information carried in the concentrations of four red blood cell fatty acids was as useful as that carried in lipid levels, blood pressure, smoking, and diabetic status with regard to predicting total mortality," noted coauthor Bill Harris. "This speaks to the power of the Omega-3 Index as a risk factor and should be considered just as important as the other established risk factors, and maybe even more so."


    —D Dye



    Coffee drinkers have lower risk of liver disease

    Coffee drinkers have lower risk of liver disease June 23 2021. A study reported on June 22, 2021 in BMC Public Health revealed a lower risk of chronic liver disease and chronic liver disease mortality among people who drink coffee in comparison with those who don’t.

    Researchers at the Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh examined data from 495,585 participants in the UK Biobank. Responses to questionnaires determined that 384,181 subjects consumed ground or instant non-decaffeinated or decaffeinated coffee. During a 10.7-year median follow-up period, 5,439 cases of chronic liver disease (including a type of liver cancer known as hepatocellular carcinoma) or fatty liver disease without inflammation, 3,600 cases of chronic liver disease (which included 301 deaths), and 184 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma occurred.

    Men and women who reported drinking coffee had a 20% lower risk of chronic liver disease or fatty liver disease, a 21% lower risk of chronic liver disease, and a 49% lower risk of chronic liver disease mortality compared to nondrinkers. The benefits were greatest among subjects who consumed who consumed three to four cups of coffee per day and for those who consumed ground coffee which, compared to instant coffee, contains significantly higher amounts of the compounds kahweol and cafestol that have shown liver-protective effects in animal studies. However, instant coffee also showed protective effects.

    "This study is the first, to our knowledge, to directly investigate the effect of different coffee types on CLD outcomes in a single large cohort," Oliver J. Kennedy and colleagues announced.

    "Coffee is widely accessible and the benefits we see from our study may mean it could offer a potential preventative treatment for chronic liver disease," Dr Kennedy stated. "This would be especially valuable in countries with lower income and worse access to healthcare and where the burden of chronic liver disease is highest."


    —D Dye



    NAC for STEMI

    NAC for STEMI June 21 2021. Findings from a meta-analysis published on Jan 30, 2021 in the International Heart Journal revealed a lower risk of mortality and major cardiovascular events in ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) patients treated with the amino acid derivative N-acetylcysteine (NAC). STEMI describes a classic acute heart attack, caused by the rupture or erosion of atherosclerotic plaque.

    "Recent experiments have shown that the use of free radical scavengers before reperfusion in patients with acute myocardial infarction can significantly reduce the infarct area," wrote authors Shi-Jun Jiang, MM, and Cheng-Hu Huang, MD. "NAC is an effective antioxidant, which can directly scavenge hydroxyl free radicals, which can reduce the oxidative damage of target tissues and allow for sufficient oxygen consumption."

    For their analysis, Jiang and Huang selected nine randomized, controlled studies that included a total of 711 STEMI patients who received NAC and 708 control STEMI patients. Trial outcomes included all-cause mortality, major adverse cardiovascular events, new heart failure, ejection fraction, myocardial enzyme markers of heart damage, and adverse reactions.

    Pooled analysis of seven trials found a 44% lower risk of all-cause mortality during the trials among patients treated with NAC compared to the control subjects. Analysis of participants in six studies found a 37% lower risk of major cardiovascular events. Levels of the myocardial enzyme hs-TNT were lower in the NAC-treated group than among those who did not receive NAC. There was no significant difference in adverse reactions between the groups.

    "The use of NAC on STEMI patients can reduce all-cause mortality, cases of major adverse cardiovascular events, myocardial infarction size, and hs-TnT level," the authors concluded. "Future studies should focus on the mechanism of the benign effects of NAC on STEMI patients, the interaction between NAC and other STEMI drugs, and the long-term effects of NAC on the heart."


    —D Dye



    Multivitamin use associated with lower hip fracture risk

    Multivitamin use associated with lower hip fracture risk June 18 2021. Findings from a systemic review and meta-analysis reported on February 11, 2021 in the Archives of Osteoporosis revealed an association between the use of multivitamin supplements and a lower risk of sustaining a fragility hip fracture, a complication of osteoporosis.

    "The protective effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on hip fracture risk has been a popular topic of study for decades," observed authors Indeevar Beeram of Harvard Medical School and colleagues. "In recent years, this focus has been extended to numerous other supplements such as carotenoids; fatty acids; minerals; and vitamins A, C, and E. Despite the abundance of available research on single vitamin supplementation, few studies have explored the impact of combined multivitamins on hip fracture risk."

    Dr Beeram and associates selected eight studies that reported multivitamin use among a total of 80,148 men and women with osteoporotic hip fracture. Multivitamin use was associated with a 51% lower risk of fragility hip fracture compared to non-use.

    Among the included studies, just one found a significant association between the risk of hip fracture and multivitamin use. Concerning this study, the authors of the current review noted that the finding may be the result of controlling for the supplements’ calcium and vitamin D content by the researchers. Nevertheless, another study found that multivitamin use was more effective than calcium alone.

    The authors suggested that further investigation of the effects of multivitamin use on hip fracture risk is warranted due to their wider usage compared to single nutrients.

    "Our results indicated that combined multivitamin supplementation was significantly associated with reduced hip fracture risk in a pooled multi-ethnic cohort," they concluded. "This finding

    strengthens the case for future randomized controlled trials to explore the protective effects of multivitamins on fragility hip fracture risk."


    —D Dye



    How omega 3 helps protect against depression

    How omega 3 helps protect against depression June 16 2021. Research reported on June 16, 2021 in Molecular Psychiatry contributes to an understanding of omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids’ (PUFA) ability to combat depression.

    "Using a combination of laboratory and patient research our study has provided exciting new insight into how omega 3 fatty acids bring about anti-inflammatory effects that improve depression," lead author Alessandra Borsini stated.

    In cells derived from the brain’s hippocampus, treatment with the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA prevented the increase in cell death and decrease in neuron formation that would have otherwise resulted from exposure to inflammatory cytokines. This protective effect occurred via metabolites of omega 3 known as lipid mediators. Administration of a specific enzyme inhibitor was found to increase the availability of two of these lipid mediators. "The lipid mediators that our research identified are broken down in the body relatively quickly, which means they may only be available for a relatively short time," noted coauthor Anna Nicolaou. "By testing the effect of inhibitors of the enzymes involved in the metabolism of omega 3 PUFA we showed that we can greatly improve how long they can have an effect in the body and ultimately, increase their efficacy. This is very important for the development of new treatments and means that patients could be given higher doses of EPA and DHA together with these enzyme inhibitors to increase the amount of these important compounds in their blood over time."

    Among individuals with depression who received 3 grams of EPA or 1.4 grams of DHA daily for 12 weeks, either fatty acid was associated with an increase in lipid mediator metabolites and improvement in depressive symptoms.

    "Our study has provided important insight into how known anti-inflammatory compounds - the omega-3 PUFA - help reduce depression," senior author Carmine Pariante concluded.


    —D Dye



    How DHA fights cancer

    How DHA fights cancer June 14 2021. Research described on June 11, 2021 in Cell Metabolism revealed a mechanism used by the omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid DHA to destroy tumors. DHA has been shown to have a cancer inhibitory effect in cell cultures and preclinical investigations, and has been associated with a lower risk of some cancers when consumed in sufficient amounts.

    The finding follows research conducted in 2016 by Olivier Feron and colleagues at the University of Louvain which found that cells in an acidic tumor microenvironment use fats rather than glucose as a source of energy to fuel their multiplication. In 2020, Dr Feron discovered that these cells are the most aggressive tumor cells and can migrate to form metastases. Further research examined how these tumor cells behave in the presence of various fatty acids. "We soon found that certain fatty acids stimulated the tumor cells while others killed them," the researchers reported.

    In cultures of tumor cells in an acidic environment, DHA as well as omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids caused cell death by ferroptosis (iron-dependent programmed cell death associated with the accumulation of lipid peroxides). While unsaturated fatty acids are normally stored within the acidic compartment of tumors and protected against oxidation, tumor cells become overwhelmed by large quantities, resulting in fatty acid oxidation and cell death.

    In tumor-bearing mice, a diet enhanced with DHA resulted in slower tumor development than that of animals given a normal diet.

    "For an adult, it's recommended to consume at least 250 mg of DHA per day," the researchers stated. "But studies show that our diet provides on average only 50 to 100 mg per day. This is well below the minimum recommended intake."

    "These data point out dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids as a selective adjuvant antitumor modality that may efficiently complement pharmacological approaches," the authors concluded.


    —D Dye



    Vitamin D could help prevent opioid addiction

    Vitamin D could help prevent opioid addiction June 11 2021. Research reported on June 11, 2021 in Science Advances suggests an association between vitamin D deficiency and greater craving for and effects of opioid drugs.

    Based on the previous finding of the production of feel-good hormones called endorphins in ultraviolet (UV)-B-exposed skin, David E. Fisher, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and colleagues hypothesized that this phenomenon may have evolved to encourage UVB-induced production of vitamin D, a hormone that is critical for numerous physiologic processes. (Endorphins are chemically related to opioid compounds and activate the same brain receptors). This could help explain sun-seeking and "tanning addiction" behaviors.

    The current research evaluated the effects of opioid compounds in normal mice and mice that were deficient in vitamin D. "Our goal in this study was to understand the relationship between vitamin D signaling in the body and ultraviolet-seeking and opioid-seeking behaviors," explained lead author Lajos V. Kemény, MD, PhD, who is a postdoctoral research fellow in Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital. "We found that modulating vitamin D levels changes multiple addictive behaviors to both UV and opioids."

    Morphine was found to be more efficient as a pain reliever in vitamin D-deficient mice in comparison with non-deficient mice. Deficient mice given modest doses of morphine continued to seek out the drug and were likelier to show signs of withdrawal. Dr Fisher suggested that morphine’s euphoric effects could be greater among humans with vitamin D deficiency, leading to a greater risk of addiction. "When we corrected vitamin D levels in the deficient mice, their opioid responses reversed and returned to normal," he reported.

    Dr Fisher noted that vitamin D deficiency is easily treated with low-cost dietary supplements. "Our results suggests that we may have an opportunity in the public health arena to influence the opioid epidemic."


    —D Dye



    Scientists describe fish oil’s ability to combat antibiotic resistance

    Scientists describe fish oil’s ability to combat antibiotic resistance June 9 2021. Researchers in Australia reported an ability of fish oil to reduce bacterial antibiotic resistance. The research, led by Flinders University, appeared on June 9, 2021 in two articles published in mBio.

    The team studied the effects of fish oil against Acinetobacter baumannii, a bacterium that has become antibiotic resistant. "We know Acinetobacter baumannii is one of the world's most notorious multidrug resistant pathogens, yet how it responds to host-mediated stress is poorly understood," noted coauthor Felise Adams.

    Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil are known for their role in helping to maintain cell membrane permeability. "With the rise of superbugs, we have now been able to show that greedy bacteria cannot distinguish between 'good and bad' host fatty acids and will consume all of these during an infection," Dr Adams explained. "Our research showed that fish oil fatty acids become part of the bacteria membrane and thus make the invading bacteria membrane more permeable and susceptible to the antibiotics being used to attack it."

    "Importantly, our studies indicate that a major antibiotic resistance mechanism in cells can be negatively impacted by the uptake of omega 3 dietary lipids," noted microbiologist Dr Bart Eijkelkamp, of the Bacterial Host Adaptation Research Lab at Flinders University. "In the experiments, and complementary supercomputer modelling, we found that these fatty acids in fish oil render the bacteria more susceptible to various common antibiotics."

    "This chink in the armor of harmful bacteria is an important step forward in combatting the rise of superbugs that are developing multidrug resistance to antibiotics," coauthor Megan O'Mara remarked.

    "These studies provide new insights into the potential benefits of omega 3 supplements for bacterial infection, in particular during antibiotic treatment," concluded Anton Peleg, of Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.


    —D Dye



    Breast microbiome modified by diet, fish oil

    Breast microbiome modified by diet, fish oil June 4 2021. Findings reported on June 3, 2021 in Cancer Research add evidence to the effects of diet on the breast’s microbiome, the community of microorganisms that exists in breast tissue.

    "We have recently demonstrated that dietary patterns modulate mammary microbiota populations," wrote David R. Soto-Pantoja and colleagues. "An important and largely open question is whether the microbiome of the gut and mammary gland mediates the dietary effects on breast cancer."

    To help answer this question, the researchers fed a high fat or a control diet to mice that are susceptible to developing breast cancer. Animals that received the high fat diet had a greater number of tumors, more rapid tumor growth and larger tumor size than those that received the control diet.

    Next, mice that were given high fat diets received fecal transplants from mice that received control diets, and control diet-fed animals received transplants from high fat diet-fed animals. The team found that animals that received the control diet developed as many tumors as mice that received the high fat diet.

    In a double-blind trial, breast cancer patients were given fish oil supplements or a placebo for two to four weeks prior to surgical removal of their tumors. The researchers observed a change in the microbiota of tumor and normal breast tissue in participants who received fish oil, including an increase in Lactobacilli (which has been associated with reduce breast cancer tumor growth in animals) in normal tumor-adjacent breast tissue of participants who received fish oil for four weeks.

    "Obesity, typically associated with a high-fat diet consumption, is a well-known risk factor in postmenopausal breast cancer," commented coauthor Katherine L. Cook, PhD, of Wake Forest University. "This study provides additional evidence that diet plays a critical role in shaping the gut and breast microbiome."


    —D Dye



    Boosting SIRT6 gene expression extends life expectancy in mice

    Boosting SIRT6 gene expression extends life expectancy in mice June 2 2021. An article published on May 28, 2021 in Nature Communications revealed the findings of an international team of researchers that increasing the expression of the SIRT6 gene in mice significantly extended life span.

    SIRT6 encodes sirtuin 6, an enzyme that is dependent upon nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+, which is involved in the production of energy). Sirtuin 6 is involved in the regulation of aging, insulin resistance and obesity.

    The research utilized mice that were genetically modified to overexpress SIRT1, SIRT6, or both genes. (SIRT1 encodes sirtuin 1, another NAD-dependent enzyme that is also involved in metabolism and aging.) Male and female mice that expressed high levels of SIRT6 experienced a respective median increase in life span of 27% and 15%, and an increase in maximum life span (maximum number of years attained) of 11% and 15%, in comparison with nonmodified mice. While mice that overexpressed both SIRT1 and SIRT6 experienced a 25% and 20% extension in median life span and a 13% and 15% increase in maximum life span, animals that overexpressed SIRT1 alone experienced no life span benefit but exhibited improved survival at a young age compared to nonmodified mice. "Thus, although SIRT1 may have some beneficial effects on early age healthspan, SIRT6, but not SIRT1, regulates lifespan . . . and SIRT1 does not synergize with SIRT6 to further increase median or maximal survival," the authors stated.

    "This discovery, combined with our previous findings, shows that SIRT6 controls the rate of healthy aging," commented corresponding author Haim Y. Cohen, director of the Sagol Healthy Human Longevity Center at Bar-Ilan University. "If we can determine how to activate it in humans, we will be able to prolong life, and this could have enormous health and economic implications."


    —D Dye


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