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.


  • 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


    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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