• New Protein Biomarkers Help Diagnose Cancer 7 Years earlier

    New Protein Biomarkers Help Diagnose Cancer 7 Years earlier

    Several studies showed that new protein markers help diagnose cancer 7 years earlier than conventional tests. One study described how researchers were able to diagnose 19 different cancers years before other tests could show these results. Another study confirmed that 2,074 circulating proteins showed an association … [Read More...]

  • Metabolism Can Vary in People

    Metabolism Can Vary in People

    Weight loss is easier for some than others, because metabolism can vary in people. In the following I will outline this in more detail. A biochemist recently published an article in “the conversation”, which is the basis for my review. Everybody has their own metabolism It is important to realize that everything … [Read More...]

  • About Aging and a Prolonged Life

    About Aging and a Prolonged Life

    The topic “about aging and a prolonged life” is always popular with people. CNN recently discussed this topic with the Nobel prize winner and molecular biologist, Professor Venki Ramakrishnan. He shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada Yonath for research on the structure and function … [Read More...]

  • Cancer in younger Adults is due to Accelerated Aging

    Cancer in younger Adults is due to Accelerated Aging

    Recent research showed that cancer in younger adults is due to accelerated aging. Researchers presented a paper at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2024. They discussed in detail how cancer presents in aging tissues. Details of the study Researchers examined the UK Biobank … [Read More...]

  • Reduction of Alcohol Intake Is Associated with Less Heart Attacks and Strokes

    Reduction of Alcohol Intake Is Associated with Less Heart Attacks and Strokes

    Recently Korean researchers showed that a reduction of alcohol intake is associated with less heart attacks and strokes. This was published on March 28, 2024. The researchers followed 21,011 participants who were heavy drinkers. The baseline examination took place 2005-2008 and a follow-up exam was between 2009 and … [Read More...]

  • Eating the right Food Determines your Health

    Eating the right Food Determines your Health

    CNN had an interview with Dr. Leana Wen about the fact that eating the right food determines your health. Dr. Wen is a wellness expert, an emergency physician and adjunct associate professor at George Washington University. How much does the quality of food we eat influence our health? There are detailed studies … [Read More...]

    Jul
    06
    2024

    New Protein Biomarkers Help Diagnose Cancer 7 Years earlier

    Several studies showed that new protein markers help diagnose cancer 7 years earlier than conventional tests. One study described how researchers were able to diagnose 19 different cancers years before other tests could show these results. Another study confirmed that 2,074 circulating proteins showed an association with 9 cancers. These consisted of bladder, breast, endometrium, head and neck, lung, ovary, pancreas, kidney, and malignant non-melanoma.

    First study

    The first study found 371 plasma protein markers that pointed to an increased cancer risk. 107 of them showed an association with cancers that physicians could only diagnose 7 years later. The researchers stated that there was an opportunity for early diagnosis and treatment. The treatment results would be much better than it is the case with a later diagnosis. In this study researchers examined plasma from 503,317 adults aged 39 to 73.

    Second study

    The second study found an association between 40 specific proteins and 9 common cancers as mentioned above. Researchers examined a total of 2,074 circulating proteins in 337,822 cancer cases. Of the 2074 circulating proteins only 40 proteins were specific for the nine cancers that I mentioned above.

    Proteomics

    The scientists who performed the studies with data from the UK Biobank specialized in the discipline of proteomics. This involves a thorough investigation of proteins in blood plasma. Here is a summary of a discussion of the findings of both studies.

    The first study identified plasma proteins that showed linkage to an increased risk of cancer of the liver, digestive and gastrointestinal tracts, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as colorectal, lung, kidney, brain, stomach, esophagus, endometrium, and blood cancers.

    The second study showed links of protein markers to these 9 cancers: bladder, triple-negative breast, endometrium, head and neck, lung, ovary, pancreas, kidney, and malignant non-melanoma.

    The authors of both studies felt that their findings contributed to an early diagnosis of these cancers. Specifically, analysis of blood plasma proteins can diagnose cancer 7 years before a clinical diagnosis.

    Discussion

    Joshua Atkins, PhD, BBmedSci, a senior genomic epidemiologist at the University of Oxford stated: “Proteins that are not causal for cancer development, but are a consequence of cancer growth can provide avenues for detecting cancers at an earlier stage when treatment can be more successful.” Dr. Atkins said further: “Nevertheless, disruption of these processes can result in diseases including cancer. For some proteins, higher blood levels are linked to higher cancer risk, while others may be protective, so higher levels are linked to lower risk.” He explained further that protein concentrations are not always related to one tissue type. He said: “The protein FGFR3 is linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, but lowering its levels is tied to an increased osteoarthritis risk.” It will take more investigations before a clinical test is available that physicians can order to diagnose cancer early.

    New Protein Biomarkers Help Diagnose Cancer 7 Years earlier

    New Protein Biomarkers Help Diagnose Cancer 7 Years earlier

    Conclusion

    Blood proteins showed linkage to a number of cancers in two separate research papers based on the UK Biobank data. The first study identified plasma proteins that were linked to an increased risk of cancer of the liver, digestive and gastrointestinal tracts, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as colorectal cancer, also lung, kidney, brain, stomach, esophagus, endometrium, and blood cancers.

    The second study showed links of protein markers to these 9 cancers: bladder, triple-negative breast, endometrium, head and neck, lung, ovary, pancreas, kidney, and malignant non-melanoma. On average these sensitive cancer tests can diagnose cancer 7 years before a clinician is able to diagnose it. In the future your doctor may screen you for cancer as you age, as cancer is mostly a disease of older people. Earlier diagnosis of cancer will give better treatment results.

    Jun
    22
    2024

    Metabolism Can Vary in People

    Weight loss is easier for some than others, because metabolism can vary in people. In the following I will outline this in more detail. A biochemist recently published an article in “the conversation”, which is the basis for my review.

    Everybody has their own metabolism

    It is important to realize that everything that our body comes in contact with influences our physical characteristics like our blood pressure and our energy. Together all the biological characteristics have the name phenotype. The most important factor that influences our phenotype is our metabolism. It matters what you do like eating, whether you are taking medication, smoking, or exercising. This all influences your metabolism. On a molecular level it starts when your digestive system breaks nutrients down into each component: carbohydrates, fats and protein. When your digestive juices break down these food components, electrons are released from chemical bonds. These are transferred to the mitochondria, the energy packages in all of our cells. It is important to note that we do not all have the same metabolism as our neighbour. There are different types of metabolism.

    Metabolism of an elite athlete

    Elite athletes are not born that way. They have to practice hard physically for many hours a day and do that over several years. Their bodies adapt to the regular training by creating extra mitochondria in every cell of their body. Their body also learns how to burn fat, carbs and amino acids into chemical energy effectively. The elite athlete has superior energy production.

    Metabolism of a Covid-19 patient

    At the other end of the spectrum is the metabolism of a Covid-19 patient. Researchers found by examining patients who got sick from Covid-19 that their fat metabolism was impaired. This inability to burn fat persists in long Covid patients. The fatigue from long Covid is due to a dysfunction of the mitochondria. The mitochondria are not producing enough energy.

    The in-between metabolism of blood donors

    Travis Nemkov is an assistant research professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. His team investigated blood from 13,000 blood donors. They found that the metabolism of blood donors placed between the metabolism of elite athletes and that of Covid-19 patients. They also found a lot of variation of a metabolite by the name of kynurenine, which is due to a breakdown of the amino acid tryptophan. The researchers found that blood from donors with higher kynurenine levels was unable to restore blood levels of blood recipients. In addition, they found that kynurenine levels were higher in older donors and also in patients with obesity (higher BMI’s). Kynurenine was also a strong predictor for Covid-19 severity.

    Weight loss problems when the metabolism is slow

    We all know people who have a problem shedding their weight compared to others who loose weight with only a few days of food restriction. “People might have fast, slow, or average metabolism, regardless of their body size and composition,” says Dr. Chih-Hao Lee, professor of genetics and complex diseases at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This Harvard University website explains this in detail. How do we speed up a naturally slow metabolism?  We can exercise a bit more, and watch the quality of our food intake. This means cutting out added sugar, too much fat, too many carbohydrates and processed foods. The Harvard website says: “Studies have found green tea contains a compound called epigallocatechin gallate, which may increase the calories and fat you burn. “By making these small changes mentioned you can rev up your metabolism.

    Hormones and body weight

    Our metabolism and body weight depend on a number of hormones: leptin, insulin, estrogens, androgens and growth hormone play a crucial role in weight control. Additional hormones, such as the thyroid hormones are involved in maintaining our weight in a healthy range. Researchers have noticed that patients with hypothyroidism gain weight and burn less calories in their mitochondria. On the other hand, patients with hyperthyroidism stimulate their metabolism, lose weight and burn more calories. The exact mechanism of how thyroid hormones interact with the other hormones is unknown.

    Metabolism Can Vary in People

    Metabolism Can Vary in People

    Conclusion

    I came across a review about metabolism and weight control, written by a biochemist. He pointed out that different people have different metabolisms. Examples he gave were the metabolism of elite athletes and the metabolism of Covid-19 patients, who are at the low end. His team investigated the metabolism of 13,000 people who were blood donors. He called them people with an in-between metabolism.

    How to speed up naturally slow metabolism

    How do we speed up a naturally slow metabolism?  We can exercise a bit more, and watch the quality of our food intake. This means cutting out added sugar, too much fat, too many carbohydrates and processed foods. Your physician can also tell you whether your thyroid hormones and your human growth hormone are adequate. Other hormones that regulate your metabolism are leptin, insulin, estrogens and androgens. When you look at the factors that are responsible for your metabolism, the genetic factors come first. Your hormone status, eating pattern and exercise status come second. But by making small changes to the factors mentioned you can rev up your metabolism significantly.

    Jun
    10
    2024

    About Aging and a Prolonged Life

    The topic “about aging and a prolonged life” is always popular with people. CNN recently discussed this topic with the Nobel prize winner and molecular biologist, Professor Venki Ramakrishnan. He shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada Yonath for research on the structure and function of ribosomes. Ribosomes are sub particles in the cell responsible for making proteins. In the following I will summarize this interview.

    What is aging?

    150 years ago, people lived only about to 40 years. Today we can live up to 84 years in most countries. It is because medicine has learnt a lot about the reasons why diseases occur and how they can be cured. Physicians have a number of antibiotics available for those who suffer infections. Heart bypass surgeries and stents can prolong a person’s life when there is hardening of the coronary arteries.

    Aging processes

    The following aging processes occur all our lives:

    • DNA breaks happen in our cells, but repair mechanisms are in place that deal with this. With older age repair mechanisms are more sluggish.
    • Faulty proteins form inside cells, however, we have mechanisms to take care of that.
    • Chemical damage to molecules in our cells accumulates. The cells can only partially eliminate these.
    • Hormone disbalances occur during menopause and andropause. But anti-aging physicians can correct this by doing hormone tests and ordering bioidentical hormone supplements.
    • There are limits of what anti-aging medicine can do: osteoarthritis affects our joints; our muscles are aging and with it our heart muscle. Degenerative neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and dementia occur frequently as we get older with no effective therapies.
    • The immune system weakens with age. To a certain extend vitamin D3 and other supplements can strengthen it, but only to a certain extent.

    Systems working together in our body

    Dr. Ramakrishnan said that our bodies work like cities. In it are various systems that need to work together to keep us alive. If a major system fails, we die. Some of the essential organ systems are the heart, the brain, kidneys, our gut, the lungs, the bone marrow and all our hormone glands. If one of these organs breaks down, we are in trouble. If an organ donor is not available, we perish. But even when everything is working together well, we are limited reaching a maximal lifespan of about 120 years. This has to do with limits of our cell metabolism and the aging processes mentioned above. Science has not found a way to prolong our maximal lifespan and likely will not find one soon. But there are various lifestyles that can prolong life as I mentioned here before.

    Genetic effect on our lifespan

    CNN asked Dr. Ramakrishnan what genetic effects there are that would transmit longevity from a parent who lived until 95 or older to a child’s lifespan. He answered the following:There is a correlation between the ages of parents and their children, but it’s not perfect. A study of 2,700 Danish twins showed that heritability — how much of our longevity is due to our genes — only accounted for about 25% of lifespan. Still, researchers have found that mutation in just a single gene can double the lifespan of a certain type of worm. Clearly there’s a genetic component, but the effects and implications are complex.”

    Relationship between cancer and aging

    The same genes are involved for the growth of the body at a young age, and the older person who comes down with cancer. In old age the same genes can cause cancer and dementia. Dr. Ramakrishnan said: “Our risk of cancer increases with age because we accumulate defects in our DNA and genome, which sometimes cause gene malfunctions that lead to cancer. But many of our cellular repair systems that seem to be designed to avoid cancer early in life also cause aging later.”

    Apoptosis (programmed cell death) and senescent cells

    The body has two mechanisms in place that counter the danger of developing cancer cells. Dr. Ramakrishnan explained: “For example, cells can sense breaks in our DNA that might allow chromosomes to join in an abnormal way, which could lead to cancer. To prevent that joining, a cell will either kill itself or enter a state called senescence, where it can no longer divide. From the perspective of an organism like us, which has trillions of cells, this makes sense. Even if millions of cells are destroyed this way, these actions protect the whole organism. But the buildup of senescent cells is one of the ways we age.”

    Lifestyle changes that help you live longer

    Dr. Ramakrishnan said that our grandmothers knew what a healthy lifestyle was. The following is a list of what science now confirms adds years to your life:

    • Don’t be gluttonous. Eating a variety of healthy foods in moderation can prevent the health risks of obesity.
    • Get exercise: this helps us regenerate new mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of our cells providing energy.
    • Avoid stress, which creates hormonal effects that change our metabolism and can accelerate aging.
    More life prolonging points:
    • Get enough sleep. This allows our bodies to do molecular-level repair.
    • One of the newer findings is Dr. Longo’s fasting mimicking diet. Do a semi-fast once a month for 5 days with 500 to 600 calories per day. This helps you to shed 0.5 to 0.7 units of body mass index. It also stimulates your immune cells, your stem cells and elongates your telomeres. Long telomeres make you live longer.
    • Replacing missing hormones with the help of an anti-aging physician will add about 10 years to your life. I mentioned this earlier.

    A few more points about longevity research

    Dr. Ramakrishnan said: “Already the top 10% of income earners in both the US and the UK live more than a decade longer than the bottom 10%. If you look at health span — the number of years of healthy life — that disparity is even greater. Poorer people are living shorter, less healthy lives.” He said further about the concept of “immortality”: “I think this quest for immortality is a mirage. One hundred and fifty years ago, you could expect to live until about 40. Today, life expectancy is about 80, which, as author Steven Johnson has said, is almost like adding a whole extra life. But we’re still obsessed about dying. I think if we lived to be 150, we’d be fretting about why we’re not living to 200 or 300. It’s never-ending.”

    About Aging and a Prolonged Life

    About Aging and a Prolonged Life

    Conclusion

    CNN discussed the quest for longevity with Nobel prize winning Dr. Ramakrishnan. He pointed out that the aging process is due to a number of factors that work together. There are DNA breaks, faulty proteins, chemical damage to molecules, hormone disbalances and degenerative changes. We need to watch that we do not overeat, get regular exercise and eat a variety of healthy foods. In addition, we need to avoid stress, get enough sleep and replace missing hormones with bioidentical hormones. A newer boost to your health is the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) from Dr. Valter Longo that helps you keep your weight in the lower body mass index range. Dr. Longo showed in animal experiments and with humans that the FMD elongates telomeres, which directly prolongs life.

    Apply what helps your longevity

    While it is far-fetched to believe that we now have a ticket to live for 120 years or longer, it is more important to know that we can do our part to spend our golden years in health and wellness.

    May
    25
    2024

    Cancer in younger Adults is due to Accelerated Aging

    Recent research showed that cancer in younger adults is due to accelerated aging. Researchers presented a paper at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2024. They discussed in detail how cancer presents in aging tissues.

    Details of the study

    Researchers examined the UK Biobank databases of 148,724 individuals aged 37 to 54 years. 9 biomarkers from blood of these patients served to calculate the biological age of these patients. The following were the blood tests: albumin, alkaline phosphatase, creatine, C-reactive protein, glucose, mean corpuscular volume, red cell distribution width, white blood cell count, and lymphocyte proportion. I will discuss below how they calculated the biological age from these factors. In most patients there was a discrepancy between the chronological age and the biological age.

    The researchers also checked the cancer registries to check how many cancer patients were found before age 55. Nearly 3200 cancers were found. Patients born between 1950 and 1954 were compared to patients born in or after 1965. Surprisingly the younger patients (born in or after 1965) had 17% higher accelerated aging. This made this group more prone to develop early cancers.

    Significance of accelerated aging regarding cancer frequency

    The researchers also found that increases in accelerated aging were associated with a significant risk of early-onset lung cancer, early-onset gastrointestinal cancer, and early-onset uterine cancer. Individuals who had the highest amount of faster aging were compared to people who had the smallest amount of faster aging. The faster aging group had twice the risk of early-onset lung cancer, more than 60% higher risk of gastrointestinal tumors, and more than 80% higher risk of uterine cancer.

    Calculating the biological age 

    The following is a list of items to calculate the biological age (taken from this CNN source):

    • albumin: a protein made by the liver that declines with age
    • creatinine: a waste product in blood produced by protein digestion and the breakdown of muscle tissue; a measure of kidney function. Lower levels correlate with better longevity.
    • glucose: With age, blood sugar stays higher for longer after meals.
    • c-reactive protein: made by the liver in response to inflammation; relatively higher levels correspond to faster aging
    • lymphocyte percent: The concentration of these white blood cells related to immune function tends to decrease with age.

    More items to calculate biological age:

    • mean cell volume: a measure of the average size of red blood cells, which increases with age
    • red cell distribution width: the difference between the size of a person’s smallest and largest red blood cells, which tends to increase with age
    • alkaline phosphatase: an enzyme produced mainly by the liver and bones that tends to increase with age
    • white blood cell counts: Numbers of white cells in the high end of the normal range in the blood may correspond with greater aging.

    Using these criteria, a research group developed the algorithm PhenoAge. This is how the biological age was calculated.

    What factors lower the biological age?

    There are 8 essential components that determine your biological age: diet, physical activity, avoiding nicotine exposure, sleep health, lower body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. This link states that when you optimize this list of 8 essential components your biological age will be 6 years less than your chronological age. It will make you resistant to several diseases including cancer.

    Your telomere length is important to reduce your biological age

    Researchers know for some time that telomere length determines the biological age. Telomere length determines how old we get. It also can predict whether we get illnesses like cancer and cardiovascular diseases as we age. In addition, it determines whether you get the blessing of longevity or not. Researchers showed that two lifestyle habits, namely a Mediterranean diet and regular exercise, preserve our telomeres to give us a younger biological age.

    Effect of Junk foods on our biological age

    Too many people eat unhealthy foods like processed meats, French fries, hamburgers and other processed foods. How does this affect your lifespan? When we consume unhealthy foods and beverages, like sugar-sweetened beverages and highly processed foods, we gain weight. Obesity and other chronic conditions are the results that put us at a higher risk regarding at least 13 types of cancer. Included in this are endometrial (uterine) cancer, breast cancer in postmenopausal women, and colorectal cancer.

    How can we counter the devastating effect of highly processed foods?

    We need to buy whole foods that were not processed. Buy fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, organic chicken, fish like wild salmon.  Cook your own meals. This link describes anti-aging foods that help you to enjoy a longer life with less diseases. Other studies showed in the past that this type of food preserves your telomeres, prevents many cancers and prevents heart attacks and strokes.

    Discussion

    The study in the beginning of this review showed a higher cancer frequency in younger patients. This is a new concerning trend. But the study failed to show the reason behind this. In my opinion it is the fact that younger people nowadays have poorer lifestyles than in the past. They consume junk foods and larger amounts of alcohol regularly. This behavior pattern causes shortening of telomeres, lowering of the biological age and the emergence of diseases mentioned above. We need more research into the causes of telomere shortening in younger patients. Also, why do they experience accelerated aging with an increase in the biological age? The research paper shown in the beginning of this review was done on a British population.

    There is a need for other studies

    A similar study with a more diverse population including a record of their eating habits would be welcome. Apart from measuring the biological age, measuring the telomere length would also be useful. In addition, a control group of younger people who consume healthy foods would help as a contrast. This control group likely would have a lower biological age and longer telomeres than the experimental group.

    Cancer in younger Adults is due to Accelerated Aging

    Cancer in younger Adults is due to Accelerated Aging

    Conclusion

    In the beginning of this review, I described a study about younger patients. They had an accelerated biological age with a higher rate of various cancers. I showed that other researchers examined telomere length and the longer it was the less cancer the patients got. I mentioned that eating junk foods, processed meats and consuming sugary drinks was bad for your health. This accelerates your biological age and shortens your telomeres. As this study was based on a British cohort, we need new research that concentrates on a more diversified population. Apart from measuring the biological age, measuring the telomere length would also be useful. In addition, a control group of younger people who consume healthy foods would help as a contrast. This control group likely would have a lower biological age and longer telomeres than the experimental group.

    May
    13
    2024

    Reduction of Alcohol Intake Is Associated with Less Heart Attacks and Strokes

    Recently Korean researchers showed that a reduction of alcohol intake is associated with less heart attacks and strokes. This was published on March 28, 2024. The researchers followed 21,011 participants who were heavy drinkers. The baseline examination took place 2005-2008 and a follow-up exam was between 2009 and 2012. Definition of heavy drinking was as follows:

    • For men: 4 drinks (56 g) per day or more than 14 drinks (196 g) per week.
    • For females: more than 3 drinks (42 g) per day or more than 7 drinks (98 g) per week.

    Reduced alcohol intake resulted in a 23% reduced risk of heart attacks or strokes, which was a significant finding. Patients benefited most from alcohol reduction regarding angina and ischemic strokes. This study was also reviewed in Medscape:

    Other studies showing benefits of less alcohol intake

    A 2018 study in Plos Medicine examined a US population of 99,654 adults (68.7% female).

    At the time of the enrolment, they were 55–74 years old. The overall time of follow-up was 8.9 years. Scientists looked at the various risks of cancer development or deaths from cardiovascular disease as a function of the amount of average alcoholic drinks consumed. The results were as follows:

    • Never drinkers: 1.09-fold risk of cancer or death.
    • Infrequent drinkers: 1.08-fold risk of cancer or death.
    • Heavy drinkers: 1.10-fold risk of cancer or death.
    • Very heavy drinkers: 1.21-fold risk of cancer or death.

    Heart attack risk and cancer risk from alcohol consumption are different

    In addition, with respect to cardiovascular risk it followed a J-curve. This means that light alcohol use reduced the probability of death from a heart attack or stroke, but with moderate or heavy alcohol use the risk of death increased. In contrast, with respect to cancer there was a linear curve, which means that no dose of alcohol was safe for cancer development. The more alcohol you consumed, the higher the risk of cancer development was. Another study also showed that only moderate alcohol consumption benefited people in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

    Chinese study

    In 2021 a joint US/Chinese study examined the effects of alcohol consumption on cancer, deaths from cardiovascular disease and mortality in general. 83,732 adult Chinese participants were free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer in the beginning of the study. The researchers categorized participants based on self-reported alcohol consumption into 6 groups.

    1. 0 g alcohol/week (non-drinkers).
    2. 1-25 g alcohol/week.
    3. 26-150 g alcohol/week.
    4. 151-350 g alcohol/week.
    5. 351-750 g alcohol/week.
    6.  > 750 g alcohol/wk.

    Results of the US/Chinese study

    After 10 years of follow-up there were 6411 cases of CVD, 2947 cancers and 6646 deaths. After 10 years of observation researchers calculated the risk for cancer, CVD and mortality as follows. The risk groups are the same as mentioned above.

    The lowest risk was group 2 with 1-25 g alcohol per week, which was set as 1.0. In comparison to these non-drinkers had a risk of 1.38-fold.

    1.     1.38-fold risk
    2.     1.0
    3.     1.15-fold
    4.     1.22-fold
    5.     1.33-fold
    6.     1.57-fold

    The peculiar finding in this study was that non-drinkers had a risk of developing cancer, heart attacks or strokes like heavier drinkers. The risk curve has the name of a J-curve, which means the risk goes first down (like group 2, the 1-25 g alcohol/week group). Subsequently the risk curve goes up in a linear fashion. When people smoke and drink the risk is higher than the risks of people who only drink alcohol.

    Reduction of Alcohol Intake Is Associated with Less Heart Attacks and Strokes

    Reduction of Alcohol Intake Is Associated with Less Heart Attacks and Strokes

    Conclusion

    The fact that alcohol is a cell poison has been public knowledge for some time. I reviewed three studies that showed that less alcohol consumption saves lives. It does so by causing less cancer, heart attacks and strokes. The peculiar finding was that the group consuming 1-25 g alcohol/week had the best health statistic. This group had the lowest risk of causing cancers or cardiovascular disease (CVD). In comparison non-drinkers had a 1.38-fold risk to cause cancer or CVD. Those participants who were smoking as well had risks much higher than people consuming alcohol alone. If you want to live longer and stay healthy don’t smoke and drink not more than 1-25 g alcohol/week. This translates into 1.6 to 1.8 alcoholic drinks per week.

    Apr
    13
    2024

    Eating the right Food Determines your Health

    CNN had an interview with Dr. Leana Wen about the fact that eating the right food determines your health. Dr. Wen is a wellness expert, an emergency physician and adjunct associate professor at George Washington University.

    How much does the quality of food we eat influence our health?

    There are detailed studies that showed the following effects of healthy food on our lives.

    • If you eat a diet consisting of more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts, the following will happen. You could exceed the age of controls eating unhealthy food by 10 to 13 years.

    Specifically, a woman starting such a diet at age 20 would add 10 years to her life, when starting at age 60 she could add 8 years to her life. For men starting this diet at age 20 would allow him to gain 13 years, when starting at age 60 he would add 9 years to his life.

    Additional healthy food studies

    • A 2023 Nature study found that men can add 10.8 years, women 10.4 years by switching their diets. This switch was from unhealthy diets to a longevity diet with more whole grains. In addition, the healthy diet contained more nuts and fruits and less sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats.
    • Another 2023 study from the Jama network followed over 100,000 people for more than 30 years. There was an association between adopting healthy eating patterns and a reduction in early mortality. People on a healthy diet reduced their risk of early death by 20%! The study also noticed that people who ate more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes had fewer other diseases. They were less likely to die from cancer, cardiovascular illness and respiratory and neurodegenerative disease. These were important findings. 

    What kinds of food make you live longer?

    Dr. Wen stated clearly that it is only minimally processed, whole food that allows a person to live longer. The highly processed foods like processed meats, sausages, cakes and cookies are a “no go”. They are the ones that cost lives from heart attacks, strokes and cancer. On the other hand, leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains associate with significantly reduced mortality. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce heart disease and dementia. It is also a good source of protein. So, stay away from hot dogs and chicken nuggets, instead enjoy salmon fillet or roasted chicken.

    Foods that you need less of

    Avoid sugar sweetened sodas and energy drinks, as they elevate cholesterol levels and cause heart attacks. Next, stay away from ultra-processed foods like chips and candies. In one study with more than 11,000 participants people who ate a lot of ultra-processed foods had a 31% higher risk of mortality.

    With what do you replace junk food?

    Here are a couple of examples. Somebody who used to drink a lot of sodas can replace them with water, sparkling water, flavored water or lemon juice, sweetened with stevia. Instead of snacking on ultraprocessed foods like chips, candies or pretzels eat nuts instead. Look at the list of ingredients before you buy anything in the grocery store. If there is a long list of ingredients including chemicals, this is ultraprocessed food. Replace it with minimally processed foods with only a few items on the ingredient list.

    Other advice for health and longevity

    1. If possible, eat three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Stop eating 2 hours before bedtime to allow your guts to digest the food you previously ate. This avoids heart burn and interference with your sleep.
    2. Exercise regularly. Studies showed that 150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week reduced mortality by 23%.
    3. Take care of stress in your life. Cherish your social life and socialize; it is important for longevity. See your doctor regularly to take care of any medical problems you may have.
    4. Watch your sleep habits. Many studies have shown that adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Sleep restores your hormone glands, gets them ready for the next day, but it is also important for longevity.
    5. Keep your body mass index (BMI) between 21.0 and 24.0. Personally, I keep my BMI between 21.0 and 22.0. Any extra pounds of fat merely lead to elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. Eventually this leads to heart attacks and strokes, but also to diabetes.
    Eating the right Food Determines your Health

    Eating the right Food Determines your Health

    Conclusion

    A recent article in CNN described that eating the right food determines your health. One study said that you should eat a diet consisting of more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts. Doing this increases your life expectation by 10 to 13 years compared to controls who ate unhealthy food. It is only minimally processed, whole food that allows a person to live longer. You must eliminate ultraprocessed food. This means you should not consume sausages, fries, chips, pretzels and other overprocessed foods. Instead, eat leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains that associate with significantly reduced mortality. Yes, eating the right food determines your health.

    Mar
    30
    2024

    Regular Exercise Makes you 9 years younger

    A recent publication noted that regular exercise makes you 9 years younger. The researchers meant that the biological age is 9 years younger than your chronological age. They went one step further and proved that regular exercise elongates your telomeres, which is why people who exercise regularly live longer. Specifically, they found that sedentary people had 140 fewer base pairs at the endpoints of their telomeres compared to people who engaged in regular physical activity. In other words, the biological age of a person who exercises regularly is lower than that of a sedentary person. This difference can be measured in leukocyte telomeres. With regard to the base pairs contained in telomeres the highest physical activity group showed the most elongation of the telomeres. There was a 9-year difference in terms of biological age between the highest exercise group and the sedentary group.

    Other means of elongation of telomeres

    Apart from regular exercise lifestyle factors can also modify the length of telomeres.

    Smoking, a lack of regular exercise, exposure to stress and intake of polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids, especially linoleic acid shortens our body telomeres. Soybean oil, sesame seed oil, walnut oil and cotton seed oil are containing 45 to 50 % of linoleic acid, and for this reason should be avoided. The antioxidant effect of omega-3 fatty acids elongates telomeres by reducing the rate of telomere shortening. Antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene were associated with longer telomeres and a lower risk to develop breast cancer.

    A few dietary recommendations

    Here are a few healthy food recommendations that will elongate your telomeres.

    • Include antioxidants, fiber, organic soy protein and healthy fats (derived from avocados, fish, and nuts).
    • Stay lean, active, healthy, and stress-free.
    • Eat foods such as salmon, herring, mackerel, halibut, anchovies, cat-fish, flounder, flax seeds, chia seeds, kiwi, black raspberries, lingonberry, green tea, broccoli, sprouts, red grapes, tomatoes, olive fruit, and other vitamin C-rich and E-rich foods. They are a good source of antioxidants. Avoid tuna and grouper fish (too rich in noxious mercury).
    • These combined with a Mediterranean type diet containing fruits, and whole grains will help protect your telomeres.
    • There are certain individuals who live longer than the rest of us. They may have a certain advantage, which is a longevity gene that makes the telomeres longer. Resveratrol also works through elongation of telomeres.

    Telomerase can also lead to telomere length

    I attended the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine In Las Vegas (Dec. 10-14, 2014) that dealt with telomere length and how nutrition can positively influence what our genes express. This ultimately determines how long we live. Dr. Al Sears gave one of the talks at the conference.

    He pointed out that shortened telomeres are causing cells to behave like old cells. In the lab we can lengthen telomeres. Telomerase activated animals regrew their brains! In the human situation the goal is to find ways to preserve the length of our telomeres in all our key organs. Alternatively, this can also be reached by inhibiting the breakdown of the enzyme telomerase, which will lead to a lengthening of telomeres. In his research Dr. Sears found at least 123 nutrients, vitamins and natural compounds that will elongate telomeres, often by stimulating telomerase.

    Lengthening of critically shortened telomeres

    Testing for critically short telomeres is clinically more important than using average telomere length tests. Dr. Sears said when a patient has been shown to have short telomeres and this patient is started on telomerase stimulating supplements, telomere lengthening can be documented within one month of starting the supplementation. Acetyl-L-carnitine and resveratrol are two substances that reliably elongate telomeres.

    Vitamin C and other telomerase stimulators

    Vitamin C will significantly delay shortening of telomeres, which translates into delayed aging. Age-dependent telomere shortening is slowed down by enrichment of intracellular vitamin C via suppression of oxidative stress. In addition, vitamin C has recently been shown to stimulate telomerase activity in certain stem cells. There is an herb, called Silymarin extract, which was found to increase telomerase activity threefold. N-acetyl cysteine is a building block for glutathione, a powerful antioxidant. In addition, it has been shown to turn on the human telomerase gene. Other telomerase stimulators are green tea extract, ginkgo biloba, gamma tocotrienol (one of the components of the vitamin E group), vitamin D3 and folic acid. Telomerase Inhibitors from Natural Products and Their Anticancer Potential.

    Regular Exercise Makes you 9 years younger

    Regular Exercise Makes you 9 years younger

    Conclusion

    A research paper found that regular exercise makes a person 9 years younger in terms of the biological age. The underlying process is that telomeres get longer with regular exercise. Specifically, the researchers found that sedentary people had 140 fewer base pairs at the endpoints of their telomeres compared to people who engaged in regular physical activity. I listed other factors that elongate telomeres and help with longevity. When you combine regular exercise with dietary factors that also elongate telomeres, you are better off than with exercise alone.

     

    Mar
    16
    2024

    New Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Disease

    A recent study explained that a new blood test for Alzheimer’s disease is very reliable. Specifically, it determined with 96% accuracy elevated levels of beta amyloid. It also accurately identified tau protein, another Alzheimer’s marker, with 97%. The original research study was published at JAMA Neurology.

    Significance of tau protein and beta amyloid for Alzheimer’s diagnosis

    Both beta amyloid and tau protein play an important role in the functioning of nerve cells in the central nervous system. But people who develop Alzheimer’s disease experience a lot of beta amyloid deposits in their brains. In addition, there is an overproduction of tau protein as well with insoluble filaments that accumulate as neurofibrillary tangles.

    Conventional ways to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease

    Alzheimer’s disease conventionally is diagnosed by a PET scan. However, this involves some radiation exposure and costs over $5,000. Next a spinal tap allows the physician to send a sample of cerebrospinal fluid to the lab for analysis. This test gives detailed information, but people are often reluctant to get this invasive test. These tests are expensive and not covered by insurance.

    The preventive neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson is the director of research at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Florida. He was not involved in the study. Dr. Isaacson said: “Having a blood test like this can also help democratize access for people and just make it easier for our health care system to more proactively manage the tsunami of dementia risk that our society is facing. This is the key to unlock the door into the field of Alzheimer’s prevention and preventive neurology.”

    Home test

    The Alzheimer’s disease test was introduced in the US in May of 2022 under the name “AD-Detect™ Test” by Quest. Again, this test is not covered by insurance. The cost is about 399.00 USD plus a 13.00 USD physician service fee.

    Research background of the home test

    Researchers performed a clinical trial that correlated the blood test, phosphorylated tau (p-tau), with PET scanning of the brain. The blood test was also correlated with lumbar punctures and analysis of cerebrospinal fluid tests. A total of 786 participants (504 females and 282 males) were tested 3 times over 5.22 years. The researchers found that phosphorylated tau (p-tau) was a specific blood biomarker to detect Alzheimer’s disease. It was very sensitive and accurate in terms of correlation with PET scans and cerebrospinal fluid tests. The investigators concluded that the Alzheimer blood test is a practical solution for diagnosing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease early. It will also be a good tool to monitor, whether any future Alzheimer’s drug is effective in controlling the disease process.

    Discussion regarding the new blood test for Alzheimer’s disease

    For years there was no easy way for physicians to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. The alternatives were to order the expensive PET scan or the invasive lumbar puncture for a cerebrospinal fluid test. Now with the new blood test for Alzheimer’s disease the physician can screen for Alzheimer’s based on clinical suspicion. The blood test can also tell whether any lifestyle changes have slowed down the clinical course or not. Another important aspect is that this test allows an earlier diagnosis of dementia.

    Difficult to interpret tests and test results in other forms of dementia

    About 20% of the study participants had blood test results, which were not clear. In a case like this the doctor would order further testing with imaging or a spinal tap to diagnose the condition accurately. Other forms of dementia like vascular dementia or Lewy body dementia were negative with this Alzheimer’s test, which added to the specificity of the test. Also, this test picks up Alzheimer’s about 10 years before symptom onset, so it is an early diagnostic test.

    New Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Disease

    New Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Disease

    Conclusion

    One of the clinical tests for Alzheimer’s disease is to test for recent memory loss. But with the new phosphorylated tau (p-tau) blood test physicians can now objectively diagnose Alzheimer’s much earlier, even when the person has no symptoms yet. Researchers validated the test in 786 participants (504 females and 282 males). They were tested 3 times over 5.22 years. Researchers also did PET scans and spinal tabs for analysis of cerebrospinal fluid in the same participants to validate the blood test. There was a 96% accuracy for elevated levels of beta amyloid. It also accurately identified tau protein, another Alzheimer’s marker with 97%. There is now a reliable Alzheimer’s blood test, which helps the physician in the management of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

    Mar
    02
    2024

    Living with the Aging Process

    The following article describes living with the aging process. Older adults undergo the process of aging between the ages of 50 and 80. This is a complex process affecting various systems parallel. There are hormone factors that are particularly prominent in women during menopause. Joints are affected by degenerative changes, which can lead to total knee and hip replacements. The aging process was described in an article by Monica Jimenez at Tufts University.

    What is aging?

    Aging is the loss of function over time. The body is much more complex than a car, so there are more possible points of failure.  Christopher Wiley is a scientist on the Basic Biology of Aging Team who studies the role of nutrition and metabolism in aging at a cellular level at Tufts University. He said:” The fact that life works is amazing”. He went on to say: “The body tries to maintain itself and restore homeostasis(self-healing) even in the face of all this stress and all this damage. We have these really sophisticated programs for dealing with these points of failure.”

    Aging goes on relentlessly

    He explains the aging process this way: “It can start with something as simple as a broken molecule, one little thing that goes wrong in one cell, and then it’s like the butterfly effect,” Wiley said. “The tissue starts struggling, and then the organ, and then your entire body.”

    Dr. Wiley warns about those who say physicians could make people “immortal”. “There’s definitely a misconception out there that we’re trying to make people immortal. But there is never going to be an immortality vaccine,” Wiley said. “There’s never going to be one thing that defeats all of aging. There’s always going to be another point of failure.”

    Slowing down biological aging

    The emphasis of research about aging is not to add chronological years. It is on biological aging and on how well our cells and tissues are functioning. Dr. Sarah Booth is the director of the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts. She said: “Lengthening the time in which we can continue to move around, care for ourselves, and participate in social life and activities, is a worthier goal than extending years of suffering.” Many people become disabled in their last years of life, then they die. “Healthspan” is a new term for our years of freedom from disability, Booth noted.

    Factors that prolong healthy aging

    1. Telomere length: One of the factors of longevity is our telomere length. Telomeres are the protective caps at the end of each chromosome. When they wear down, it leads to mistakes in the DNA copies of genetic information. There are supplements and herbs that can elongate telomeres. Exercise and the fasting mimicking diet also make telomeres longer. Older adults in good shape have longer telomeres, which stabilizes the DNA in their cells.
    2. Healthy diet: Researchers have determined that several diets are healthier than others. The Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory, so is the DASH diet, which was developed for people with high blood pressure. The HNRCA of Tufts is one of six organizations that got research grants recently to investigate life-prolonging diets. The amount was for $8.5 million.

    Exercise and lifestyle factors

    1. Regular exercise: Over the years a lot of research accumulated data that shows regular exercise makes people biologically younger. Heart vessels have less atheromatous deposits and the brain stays younger as well. One study reported that 30 minutes of exercise daily prevents dementia.
    2. Other lifestyle factors: other factors are whether or not you are smoking (it goes without saying that you must quit). In addition, genetics (longevity gene), the environment (polluted or not), stress levels and socioeconomic class all play a factor in how fast we age. These latter points are difficult to tease apart, but they influence us globally. Target organs for aging are: the brain, heart, eyes, and bones, along with cancer, obesity, and more.

    Hormone replacement 

    1. Bioidentical hormone replacement: One factor about delaying aging significantly was not mentioned in the review article by Monica Jimenez. But I am including it, because bioidentical hormone replacement is important for women who undergo menopause in their 50’s. I also mention it because men enter andropause in their 60’s. BiEst estrogen and progesterone cream make a big difference for the symptoms of menopausal women. Similarly, men experience a lot of relief with testosterone injections twice a week, when blood testosterone levels are low. If they have a lack of erections (erectile dysfunction) they may in addition need to take the “happy pill”. Sildenafil or tadalafil can treat erectile dysfunction by giving a good erection to a menopausal male. Hormone replacement can add as much as 10 healthy years to your life.

    Discussion

    Dr. Booth said: “We’re looking at the same question through different lenses with different tools, technologies, and perspectives. Progress in aging research is only going to be achieved by bringing together different disciplines addressing the same problem.”

    Christopher Wiley added: “The biggest change I’ve seen in the past ten years is that we really are finding new, different ways of actually intervening somewhere that could potentially extend the healthy years of life, and prevent people from getting age-related diseases.” He mentioned that scientists are gradually reducing the suffering associated with aging: “What aging research is really trying to do is compress the morbidity and make it as small as possible – to alleviate suffering,” Wiley said. “I think that’s a much more humanitarian goal, and I think we’re having a lot of success with those efforts.”

    Living with the Aging Process

    Living with the Aging Process

    Conclusion

    Aging is a slow process that starts the moment we are born. But between the age of 50 and 80 we age faster. I mentioned 5 specific areas that can slow down the aging process. If somebody smokes, he/she must stop smoking. Cigarette and tobacco smoking  the biggest aging factor. The protective caps at the end of each chromosome go by the name of telomeres. When they shorten prematurely, mistakes occur in the DNA copies of genetic information. This leads to premature aging.

    What keeps you younger for longer

    The good news is that exercise, the fasting mimicking diet and several supplements can elongate telomeres. A healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet and regular exercise keeps the arteries open preventing heart attacks and strokes. Bioidentical hormone replacement helps to rebalance your hormones, which is important for normal cell function. In anti-aging circles they talk about life prolongation of about 10 years for hormone replacement alone. It comes down to not simply extend your lifespan, but to extend your years of healthy living without disability.

    Feb
    17
    2024

    Ashwagandha’s Benefits

    Medical news today had an article in October 2023 that reviewed ashwagandha’s benefits. I thought it would be useful to discuss this topic in an abridged version. Often things get distorted on the Internet and a reality check helps to separate facts from fiction. Ashwagandha (botanical name: Withania somnifera) is a small shrub that grows in Southeast Asia, Africa and some areas of India. An alternative name is Indian ginseng.  Ashwagandha has been part of Ayurvedic medicine for more than 3000 years.

    About ashwagandha’s effectiveness

    Ashwagandha is part of natural medicines that go under the name of adaptogens. The effective substances of ashwagandha were isolated. Researchers named them withanolides. They are alkaloids and consist of polyoxygenated steroidal lactones with 28-carbon ergostane skeletons.

    People are taking ashwagandha supplements to counter stress and fatigue. But it also increases testosterone, which increases muscle mass. In addition, there is an increase of libido in men as well as in women.

    People with insomnia benefit from the relaxing and sleep-inducing effect of ashwagandha supplements. Ashwagandha stimulates the immune system. It also significantly counters the stress response, as it lowers cortisol levels.

    The active chemical components of ashwagandha

    Various researchers pinpointed the diverse actions of ashwagandha extracts to withanolides, which are the pharmacologically active ingredients. There are at least 25 different chemical structures of withanolides, which are depicted in this reference: This explains the diverse effects of ashwagandha extracts on the immune system, the stress hormone axis, the libido brain centers and testosterone production. One human study showed that within 96 hours of ashwagandha extract administration the immune system was activated; T cells and natural killer cells were measured and were significantly elevated in number in comparison to controls:

    Specific clinical trials showing effects of ashwagandha

    Effects on the brain

    In a small clinical study oral intake of ashwagandha improved performance on cognitive tasks, executive function, attention, and reaction time.

    Dr. Amala Soumyanath is a professor of neurology in the School of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. She stated: “These laboratory studies show that ashwagandha extracts can act on neurotransmitter pathways including those involving serotonin and Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and also affect systems like the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary (SAM) axis.”

    What does this mean? It means that ashwagandha contains a mix of withanolides that calm down the brain, particularly when it is stressed. At the same time, it increases serotonin and GABA, which has antidepressant and calming effects. Clinical trials have measured cortisol levels in volunteers and found that cortisol is lowered within a few weeks. This is the strongest evidence that ashwagandha in fact counteracts stress.

    Libido and muscle strength

    A small human study found that muscle strength was higher after exposure to oral ashwagandha in comparison to controls.

    Ashwagandha showed a significant increase of maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) in healthy adults and athletes, which is a direct measurement of exercise fitness. A clinical trial with 50 overweight males aged 40-70 years, showed that 16 weeks of oral ashwagandha increased their testosterone level by 14.7%. In addition, there were improvements in fatigue, vigor, and sexual and psychological well-being. There was also an increase of 18% of DHEA-S a precursor of testosterone. The authors felt that a larger study with a longer observation time would be beneficial to confirm this study. Overall, the objective effects of ashwagandha are in the mild to moderate category. The mild increase in testosterone affects libido only marginally. Some articles in social media are vastly exaggerating the objective findings.

    Health risk of ashwagandha

    There are downsides as well. Ashwagandha stimulates the immune system and in doing so may exacerbate autoimmune diseases. It also can increase thyroid hormones, which is important to know for people with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Men who have hormone sensitive prostate cancer should avoid ashwagandha, because it elevates testosterone.

    Researchers pointed out that gastrointestinal upsets, such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting due to ashwagandha are common side effects. The higher the dosage and the longer the exposure is, the more likely it is that the patient experiences side effects. Researchers reported a few cases of reversible liver toxicity cases due to ashwagandha. At this point the effects of concomitant medications taken at the same time as ashwagandha is not known.

    Ashwagandha’s Benefits

    Ashwagandha’s Benefits

    Conclusion

    Lately social media is full of ashwagandha’s benefits. Rosy reports of increased libido, extra energy and boosts of confidence circulate on the Internet. Men are told that in order to build up muscle bulk with exercise they must take ashwagandha. This review checked the facts. There is a 14.7% rise in testosterone from taking ashwagandha and this may contribute to an increase of muscle mass with exercise, but this is not a huge effect. Also, the mild increase of libido due to the increase of testosterone is not as significant as reported in the social media. The active ingredients of ashwagandha are the withanolides, which researchers isolated. They do help to deal with stress-related problems like lack of energy and insomnia. In addition, they stimulate the immune system to give a stronger response.

    Side effects of ashwagandha

    But ashwagandha also has some side effects. It can make auto immune reactions worse. It can interfere with both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Men who have hormone sensitive prostate cancer must avoid ashwagandha because of the testosterone increase. Gastrointestinal upsets, such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting from ashwagandha supplementation are common side effects. So far scientific evidence is based on relatively small clinical trials. Scientists must conduct much bigger trials that are going on for several years to provide more in-depth information on the effects of ashwagandha.