CNO Report 226
Release Date 24 MAR 2016
Draft Report Compiled by
In this issue:
1. Green tea and iron, bad combination
2. Blueberries, the well-known ‘super fruit,’ could help fight Alzheimer’s
3. Could a pure maple syrup extract be tapped for better brain health?
4. Molecules that may keep you young and alive
5. Omega-3 fatty acids shown to exert a positive effect on the aging brain
6. A global increase in antioxidant defenses of the body may delay aging and its diseases
7. Re-energizing the aging brain
8. New study supports link between Omega-3 supplementation and reduction in depression
9. US adults get failing grade in healthy lifestyle behavior
10. Reverse your diabetes — and you can stay diabetes-free long-term
11. Why do sunbathers live longer than those who avoid the sun?
12. Increased vitamin C in the diet could help protect against cataracts
Public Release: 8-Mar-2016
Green tea and iron, bad combination
Green tea is touted for its many health benefits as a powerful antioxidant, but experiments in a laboratory mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease suggest that consuming green tea along with dietary iron may actually lessen green tea’s benefits.
“If you drink green tea after an iron-rich meal, the main compound in the tea will bind to the iron,” said Matam Vijay-Kumar, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, Penn State. “When that occurs, the green tea loses its potential as an antioxidant. In order to get the benefits of green tea, it may be best to not consume it with iron-rich foods.” Iron-rich foods include red meat and dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach. According to Vijay-Kumar, the same results also apply to iron supplements.
Vijay-Kumar and colleagues found that EGCG — the main compound in green tea — potently inhibits myeloperoxidase, a pro-inflammatory enzyme released by white blood cells during inflammation. Inactivation of myeloperoxidase by EGCG may be beneficial in mitigating IBD flare-ups. But when EGCG and iron are consumed simultaneously, iron-bound EGCG loses its ability to inhibit myeloperoxidase.
Adding to this complexity, they found that EGCG can also be inactivated by a host protein, which is highly abundant in inflammatory conditions. The researchers published their findings in the American Journal of Pathology.
IBD is characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, which results in bloody diarrhea, pain, fatigue, weight loss and other symptoms including iron deficiency/anemia. It is common for IBD patients to be prescribed iron supplements. In this scenario, the intake of green tea and iron supplements at the same time would be counterproductive as both nutrients would bind and cancel each other out.
“It is important that IBD patients who take both iron supplements and green tea know how one nutrient affects the other,” Vijay-Kumar said. “The information from the study could be helpful for both people who enjoy green tea and drink it for its general benefits, as well as people who use it specifically to treat illnesses and conditions.”
“The benefit of green tea depends on the bioavailability of its active components,” said Beng San Yeoh, graduate student in immunology and infectious diseases and first author of the study. “It is not only a matter of what we eat, but also when we eat and what else we eat with it.”
Public Release: 13-Mar-2016
Blueberries, the well-known ‘super fruit,’ could help fight Alzheimer’s
American Chemical Society
SAN DIEGO, March 13, 2016 –The blueberry, already labeled a ‘super fruit’ for its power to potentially lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, also could be another weapon in the war against Alzheimer’s disease. New research being presented today further bolsters this idea, which is being tested by many teams. The fruit is loaded with healthful antioxidants, and these substances could help prevent the devastating effects of this increasingly common form of dementia, scientists report.
The researchers present their work today at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 12,500 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
“Our new findings corroborate those of previous animal studies and preliminary human studies, adding further support to the notion that blueberries can have a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in some older adults,” says Robert Krikorian, Ph.D., leader of the research team. He adds that blueberries’ beneficial effects could be due to flavonoids called anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve animals’ cognition.
Currently 5.3 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. But that number is expected to increase, Krikorian notes, as the U.S. population ages. By 2025, the number of Americans with this degenerative disorder could rise 40 percent to more than 7 million, and it could almost triple by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
In an effort to find ways to slow down this alarming trend, Krikorian and colleagues at University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center conducted two human studies to follow up on earlier clinical trials.
One study involved 47 adults aged 68 and older, who had mild cognitive impairment, a risk condition for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers gave them either freeze-dried blueberry powder, which is equivalent to a cup of berries, or a placebo powder once a day for 16 weeks.
“There was improvement in cognitive performance and brain function in those who had the blueberry powder compared with those who took the placebo,” Krikorian says. “The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts.” The team also conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which showed increased brain activity in those who ingested the blueberry powder.
The second study included 94 people aged 62 to 80, who were divided into four groups. The participants didn’t have objectively measured cognitive issues, but they subjectively felt their memories were declining. The groups received blueberry powder, fish oil, fish oil and powder or placebo.
“The results were not as robust as with the first study,” Krikorian explained. “Cognition was somewhat better for those with powder or fish oil separately, but there was little improvement with memory.” Also, fMRI results also were not as striking for those receiving blueberry powder. He says that the effect may have been smaller in this case because these participants had less severe issues when they entered the study.
Krikorian said the two studies indicate that blueberries may be more effective in treating patients with cognitive impairments, but may not show measurable benefit for those with minor memory issues or who have not yet developed cognitive problems.
In the future, the team plans to conduct a blueberry study with a younger group of people, aged 50 to 65. The group would include people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s, such as those who are obese, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. This work could help the researchers determine if blueberries could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Public Release: 14-Mar-2016
Could a pure maple syrup extract be tapped for better brain health?
Pure maple syrup research shows promise in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease
San Diego, CA – March, 14 2016 – As part of a two-day symposium at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, a group of international scientists shared promising results of 24 studies exploring the beneficial effects of natural products on the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. For the first time at this symposium, real maple syrup was included among the healthful, functional foods that show promise in protecting brain cells against the kind of damage found in Alzheimer’s disease.
One study presented by Dr. Donald Weaver, from the Krembil Research Institute of the University of Toronto, found that an extract of maple syrup may help prevent the misfolding and clumping of two types of proteins found in brain cells – beta amyloid and tau peptide. When cellular proteins fold improperly and clump together, they accumulate and form the plaque that is involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.
The other research presented at the symposium showed that a pure maple syrup extract prevented the fibrillation (tangling) of beta amyloid proteins and exerted neuroprotective effects in rodent’s microglial brain cells. Scientists have found that a decrease in microglial brain cell function is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological problems. The maple syrup extract also prolonged the lifespan of an Alzheimer’s roundworm model in vivo. The study was conducted out of the University of Rhode Island, in collaboration with researchers at Texas State University, and was led by Dr. Navindra P. Seeram, the symposium’s organizer.
“Natural food products such as green tea, red wine, berries, curcumin and pomegranates continue to be studied for their potential benefits in combatting Alzheimer’s disease. And now, in preliminary laboratory-based Alzheimer’s disease studies, phenolic-enriched extracts of maple syrup from Canada showed neuroprotective effects, similar to resveratrol, a compound found in red wine,” said Dr. Seeram. “However, further animal and eventually human studies would be required to confirm these initial findings.”
These preliminary findings help support discoveries made over the past few years on the inherent properties of pure maple syrup that comes directly from the sap of the maple tree, making it an all-natural product with unique health benefits.
Serge Beaulieu, President of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, is excited by the findings of the independent scientific studies and enthusiastic about the potential pure maple syrup may have on neurological health. “The Federation and the 7300 Quebec maple enterprisers are committed to investing in scientific research to help better understand the link between food and health. This has been demonstrated by a robust and carefully guided research program that started in 2005 to explore the potential health benefits of pure maple syrup,” said Beaulieu. “We already know that maple has more than 100 bioactive compounds, some of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Brain health is the latest topic of exploration and we look forward to learning more about the potential benefits that maple syrup might have in this area.”
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that impairs daily functioning through gradual loss of memory. Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 67 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that currently cannot be cured, prevented or even slowed. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., afflicts 11 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 65, and carries with it an annual health care cost of $226 billion (2015 estimate).
The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers does not promote an increase of sugar consumption. When choosing a sweetener for moderate use, pure maple syrup has more healthful compounds compared to some other sources of sugar.
Public Release: 15-Mar-2016
Molecules that may keep you young and alive
A new Concordia-Idunn Technologies research collaboration provides insights into how certain chemicals can slow biological aging
Montreal, March 15, 2016 — Even though the search for the Fountain of Youth dates back to the ancient Greeks, the quest to live forever continues today. Indeed, it has been said that the ability to slow the aging process would be the most important medical discovery in the modern era.
A new study published in the journal Oncotarget by researchers from Concordia and the Quebec-based biotech company Idunn Technologies may have uncovered an important factor: plant extracts containing the six best groups of anti-aging molecules ever seen.
For the study, the research team combed through Idunn Technologies’ extensive biological library, conducting more than 10,000 trials to screen for plant extracts that would increase the chronological lifespan of yeast.
Why yeast? Cellularly speaking, aging progresses similarly in both yeast and humans. It’s the best cellular model to understand how the anti-aging process takes place.
“In total, we found six new groups of molecules that decelerate the chronological aging of yeast,” says Vladimir Titorenko, the study’s senior author and a professor in the Department of Biology at Concordia. He carried out the study with a group of Concordia students and Éric Simard, the founder of Idunn Technologies, which is named for the goddess of rejuvenation in Norse mythology.
This has important implications not only for slowing the aging process, but also for preventing certain diseases associated with aging, including cancer.
“Rather than focus on curing the individual disease, interventions on the molecular processes of aging can simultaneously delay the onset and progression of most age-related disorders. This kind of intervention is predicted to have a much larger effect on healthy aging and life expectancy than can be attained by treating individual diseases,” says Simard, who notes that these new molecules will soon be available in commercial products.
“These results also provide new insights into mechanisms through which chemicals extracted from certain plants can slow biological aging,” says Titorenko.
One of these groups of molecules is the most potent longevity-extending pharmacological intervention yet described in scientific literature: a specific extract of willow bark.
Willow bark was commonly used during the time of Hippocrates, when people were advised to chew on it to relieve pain and fever. The study showed that it increases the average and maximum chronological lifespan of yeast by 475 per cent and 369 per cent, respectively. This represents a much greater effect than rapamycin and metformin, the two best drugs known for their anti-aging effects.
“These six extracts have been recognized as non-toxic by Health Canada, and already exhibit recognized health benefits in humans,” says Simard.
“But first, more research must be done. That’s why Idunn Technologies is collaborating with four other universities for six research programs, to go beyond yeast, and work with an animal model of aging, as well as two cancer models.”
Public Release: 15-Mar-2016
Omega-3 fatty acids shown to exert a positive effect on the aging brain
Preventing Alzheimer’s disease through supplementation with natural omega-3 fatty acids
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Changes in cognitive function and memory decline form a normal part of aging. However, in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment (the pre-dementia phase of Alzheimer’s disease), these changes occur more quickly. There are currently no effective treatments for these diseases. Physicians and researchers are constantly looking for new treatment methods that will maintain their patients’ cognitive performance and independence for as long as possible. Targeted prevention is another essential component when trying to preserve cognitive function for as long as possible.
“Ideally, any measures used should be aimed at long-term prevention. This means that measures must be suitable for use in healthy older adults, and should be easy to integrate into day-to-day life,” says Dr. Nadine Külzow, a researcher at Charité’s Department of Neurology. Nutritional supplements represent one such option. “A number of different dietary components, including omega-3 fatty acids, are currently thought to have a direct effect on nerve cell function. This is why we decided to study the effects on memory function of a daily dose of 2,200 milligrams taken for a duration of six months,” says Dr. Külzow.
Study participants who received omega-3 fatty acids showed greater improvements on an object location memory task than participants who received a placebo containing sunflower oil. However, there was no evidence of improved performance on a verbal learning test. “Results from this study suggest that a long-term approach to prevention is particularly effective in preserving cognitive function in older individuals. A targeted approach involving dietary supplements can play a central role in this regard,” concluded the researchers. Whether or not the improvements recorded can make a noticeable difference in day-to-day life will need to be investigated as part of a larger clinical study. As a next step, however, the researchers are planning to test the effect of supplementation with a combination of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B. According to research conducted at Oxford, this combination may be associated with synergistic effects.
Department of Neurology and Experimental Neurology http://neurologie.charite.de/en/research/
Public Release: 15-Mar-2016
A global increase in antioxidant defenses of the body may delay aging and its diseases
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO)
The gradual accumulation of cell damage plays a very important role in the origin of ageing. There are many sources of cellular damage, however, which ones are really responsible for ageing and which ones are inconsequential for ageing is a question that still lacks an answer.
The Oxidative Hypothesis of Ageing — also known as the Free Radicals Hypothesis — was put forward in 1956 by Denham Harman. Since then, the large majority of attempts to prove that oxidative damage is relevant for ageing have failed, including multiple clinical trials in humans with antioxidant compounds. For this reason, although the accumulation of oxidative damage with ageing is undisputed, most scientists believe that it is a minor, almost irrelevant, cause of ageing.
However, this may change in light of the recently published observations. A group of scientists from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) headed by Manuel Serrano, in collaboration with a group from the University of Valencia, directed by José Viña, and researchers at IMDEA Food from Madrid, have tried to increase the global antioxidant capacity of the cells, rather than just one or a few antioxidant enzymes. To achieve this global improvement in the total antioxidant capacity, researches have focused on increasing the levels of NADPH, a relatively simple molecule that is of key importance in antioxidant reactions and that, however, had not been studied to date in relation to ageing.
The researchers used a genetic approach to increase NADPH levels. In particular, they generated transgenic mice with an increased expression throughout their bodies of one of the most important enzymes for the production of NADPH, namely, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (or G6PD).
The results, published today in the journal Nature Communications, indicate that an increase in G6PD and, therefore, in NADPH, increases the natural antioxidant defences of the organism, protecting it from oxidative damage, reducing ageing-related processes, such as insulin resistance, and increasing longevity.
ANTIOXIDANTS THAT DELAY AGEING
“As anticipated, the cells in these transgenic animals are more resistant to highly toxic artificial oxidative treatments, thus proving that an increase in G6PD really improves antioxidant defences,” explains Sandrina Nóbrega-Pereira, first author of the study and currently a researcher at the Institute of Molecular Medicine of the University of Lisbon.
Furthermore, when researchers analysed long-lived transgenic animals, they noted that their levels of oxidative damage were lower than in non-transgenic animals of the same age. They also studied the propensity of these animals to develop cancer and found no difference, suggesting that enhancing G6PD activity does not have an important effect on the development of cancer.
The greatest surprise for the team was when they measured the ageing process in the transgenic mice: the animals with a high G6PD expression and, therefore, high levels of NADPH, delayed their ageing, metabolised sugar better and presented better movement coordination as they aged. In addition, transgenic females lived 14% longer than non-transgenic mice, while no significant effect on the longevity of males was observed.
“This increased longevity, although modest, is striking taking into account that until now attempts to increase longevity by manipulating individual antioxidant enzymes had failed,” said Pablo Fernández-Marcos, co-first author of the study and researcher at IMDEA Food.
OVERALL INCREASE IN THE ANTIOXIDANT CAPACITY OF CELLS
Perhaps the key is that the researchers involved in this paper enhanced all antioxidant enzymes in a comprehensive manner. “Compared to the traditional approach of administering antioxidants that react directly with oxygen, we have stimulated all the cell’s natural antioxidant mechanisms by raising G6PD levels, and its by-product, NADPH,” emphasizes Mari Carmen Gómez-Cabrera, co-author of the paper and researcher at the University of Valencia.
Based on these results, the authors of the study point to the use of pharmacological agents or nutritional supplements that increase NADPH levels as potential tools for delaying the ageing process in humans and age-related diseases, such as diabetes, among others. More specifically, vitamin B3 and its derivatives are responsible for the synthesis of NADPH precursors and are suitable candidates for future studies.
Public Release: 16-Mar-2016
Re-energizing the aging brain
The human brain has a prodigious demand for energy — 20 to 30% of the body’s energy budget. In the course of normal aging, in people with neurodegenerative diseases or mental disorders, or in periods of physiological stress, the supply of sugars to the brain may be reduced. This leads to a reduction in the brain’s energy reserves, which in turn can lead to cognitive decline and loss of memory.
But new research on mice shows that the brain’s energy reserves can be increased with a daily dose of pyruvate, a small energy-rich molecule that sits at the hub of most of the energy pathways inside the cell. These results need to be replicated in human subjects, but could ultimately lead to clinical applications.
“In our new study, we show that long-term dietary supplementation with pyruvate increases the energy reserves in the brain, at least in mice, in the form of the molecules glycogen, creatine and lactate,” says lead author Heikki Tanila, Professor of Molecular Neurobiology at the A. I. Virtanen Institute of the University of Eastern Finland.
What’s more, dietary supplementation with pyruvate didn’t only increase the brain’s energy stores: it also changed the behavior of the mice in positive ways, show the researchers.
“The mice became more energetic and increased their explorative activity. It appears that these behavioral changes are directly due to the effect of pyruvate on brain function, since we didn’t find that these mice had developed greater muscle force or endurance,” says Tanila.
For example, chronic supplementation with pyruvate facilitated the spatial learning of middle-aged (6- to 12-months-old) mice, made them more interested in the odor of unfamiliar mice, and stimulated them to perform so-called “rearing”, an exploratory behavior where mice stand on their hind legs and investigate their surroundings (photo).
The dose necessary to achieve these effects was about 800 mg pyruvate per day – which corresponds to about 10 g per day in humans — given to the mice in normal chow over a period of 2.5 to 6 months. A single large dose of pyruvate injected directly into the blood stream had no detectable effect.
Interestingly, the positive response to dietary supplementation with pyruvate was also found in a strain of transgenic mice called APPswe/PS1dE9, often used as an animal model for the study of Alzheimer’s disease. These mice exhibit many of the same symptoms as people with Alzheimer’s, such as the deposition of protein plaques in the brain, neurodegeneration, and cognitive decline. These results raise hopes that pyruvate might also benefit people with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
“Pyruvate supplementation may prove beneficial as an activating treatment for the elderly and in therapies for alleviating cognitive decline due to aging, neurodegenerative disease, or mental disorders. It is well tolerated and warrants further studies in humans,” says Tanila.
The study, which was supported by the Alzheimer Association, is published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
New study supports link between Omega-3 supplementation and reduction in depression
Credit: Mocking et al., 2016. doi:10.1038/tp.2016.29 Reproduced per terms of Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode
According to the World Health Organization, depression is a major cause of disease burden worldwide, affecting an estimated 350 million people. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, in 2014, an estimated 15.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
A new meta-analysis published in Translational Psychiatry supports the link between intake of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, the kind found in fish, and reduction in major depressive disorder (MDD). The meta-analysis includes 13 studies with 1233 participants and, according to the authors, showed a benefit for EPA and DHA comparable to effects reported in meta-analyses of antidepressants (see Figure 1). The effect was greater in studies supplementing higher doses of EPA and performed in patients already on antidepressants.
“This new meta-analysis nuances earlier research on the importance of long chain omega-3s in MDD management”, said Dr. Roel JT Mocking, the study’s lead author and researcher at the Program for Mood Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. “Omega-3 supplements may be specifically effective in the form of EPA in depressed patients using antidepressants. This could be a next step to personalizing the treatment for depression and other disorders.”
Additionally, this study underscores the importance of EPA and DHA omega-3s for overall health and well-being, and supports an existing body of research on the connection between omega-3s and depression.
Public Release: 21-Mar-2016
US adults get failing grade in healthy lifestyle behavior
Oregon State University
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Only 2.7 percent of the U.S. adult population achieves all four of some basic behavioral characteristics that researchers say would constitute a “healthy lifestyle” and help protect against cardiovascular disease, a recent study concluded.
In this study, researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi examined how many adults succeed in four general barometers that could help define healthy behavior: a good diet, moderate exercise, a recommended body fat percentage and being a non-smoker. It’s the basic health advice, in other words, that doctors often give to millions of patients all over the world.
Such characteristics are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as many other health problems, such as cancer and type 2 diabetes.
“The behavior standards we were measuring for were pretty reasonable, not super high,” said Ellen Smit, senior author on the study and an associate professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “We weren’t looking for marathon runners.”
From the perspective of public health, the findings of the research were not encouraging, Smit said.
“This is pretty low, to have so few people maintaining what we would consider a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “This is sort of mind boggling. There’s clearly a lot of room for improvement.”
Part of the value of this study, the researchers said, is that the results are based on a large study group, 4,745 people from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It also included several measured behaviors, rather than just relying on self-reported information.
Measurements of activity were done with an accelerometer, a device people wore to determine their actual level of movement, with a goal of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity a week. Blood samples were done to verify a person was a non-smoker. Body fat was measured with sophisticated X-ray absorptiometry, not just a crude measurement based on weight and height. A healthy diet was defined in this study as being in about the top 40 percent of people who ate foods recommended by the USDA.
The lifestyle characteristics were then compared to “biomarkers” of cardiovascular health. Some are familiar, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels. Others are more sophisticated, such as C-reactive protein, fasting triglycerides, homocysteine and other data that can provide evidence of cardiovascular risk.
Many people, of course, accomplished one or more of the four basic lifestyle goals, such as not smoking or being adequately active. The most striking finding was how few people accomplished all the goals.
“I would expect that the more healthy lifestyles you have, the better your cardiovascular biomarkers will look,” Smit said.
Indeed, the researchers found that having three or four healthy lifestyles, compared to none, generally was associated with better cardiovascular risk biomarkers, such as lower serum cholesterol and homocysteine levels. Having at least one or two healthy lifestyle characteristics, compared to none, was also associated with better levels of some cardiovascular risk biomarkers.
Among the other findings of the research:
· Although having more than one healthy lifestyle behavior is important, specific health characteristics may be most important for particular cardiovascular disease risk factors.
· For healthy levels of HDL and total cholesterol, the strongest correlation was with normal body fat percentage.
· A total of 71 percent of adults did not smoke, 38 percent ate a healthy diet, 10 percent had a normal body fat percentage, and 46 percent were sufficiently active.
· Only 2.7 percent of all adults had all four healthy lifestyle characteristics, while16 percent had three, 37 percent had two, 34 percent had one, and 11 percent had none.
· Women were more likely to not smoke and eat a healthy diet, but less likely to be sufficiently active.
· Mexican American adults were more likely to eat a healthy diet than non-Hispanic white or black adults.
· Adults 60 years and older had fewer healthy characteristics than adults ages 20-39, yet were more likely to not smoke and consume a healthy diet, and less likely to be sufficiently active.
More research is needed, experts say, to identify ways to increase the adoption of multiple healthy lifestyle characteristics among adults.
Public Release: 21-Mar-2016
Reverse your diabetes — and you can stay diabetes-free long-term
· People who have had Type 2 diabetes for up to 10 years can reverse their condition
· Keeping weight down means Type 2 diabetes stays reversed
A new study from Newcastle University has shown that people who reverse their diabetes and then keep their weight down remain free of diabetes.
In addition, the team found that even patients who have had Type 2 diabetes for up to 10 years can reverse their condition.
The study, published today in Diabetes Care, is the latest research from world-renowned Professor Roy Taylor, Professor of Medicine and Metabolism at Newcastle University, who also works within Newcastle Hospitals.
The research is part of a growing body of evidence showing that people with Type 2 diabetes who successfully lose weight can reverse their condition because fat is removed from their pancreas, returning insulin production to normal.
A previous study led by Professor Taylor, published in 2011, showed that diabetes could be reversed by a very low calorie diet. This caused international interest, but the study was very short as it was only eight weeks and the question remained whether the diabetes would stay away.
In this new study, 30 volunteers with Type 2 diabetes embarked on the same diet of 600 to 700 calories a day. Participants lost on average 14 kilograms – just over 2 stone. Over the next 6 months they did not regain any weight.
The group included many people with longer duration diabetes, defined as more than 8 years and ranging up to 23 years.
Overall, 12 patients who had had diabetes for less than 10 years reversed their condition. 6 months later they remained diabetes free. In fact, after 6 months a thirteenth patient had reversed their diabetes.
Though the volunteers lost weight they remained overweight or obese but they had lost enough weight to remove the fat out of the pancreas and allow normal insulin production.
Professor Roy Taylor said: “What we have shown is that it is possible to reverse your diabetes, even if you have had the condition for a long time, up to around 10 years. If you have had the diagnosis for longer than that, then don’t give up hope – major improvement in blood sugar control is possible.
“The study also answered the question that people often ask me – if I lose the weight and keep the weight off, will I stay free of diabetes? The simple answer is yes!
“Interestingly, even though all our volunteers remained obese or overweight, the fat did not drift back to clog up the pancreas.
“This supports our theory of a Personal Fat Threshold. If a person gains more weight than they personally can tolerate, then diabetes is triggered, but if they then lose that amount of weight then they go back to normal.
“Individuals vary in how much weight they can carry without it seeming to affect their metabolism – don’t forget that 70% of severely obese people do not have diabetes.
“The bottom line is that if a person really wants to get rid of their Type 2 diabetes, they can lose weight, keep it off and return to normal.
“This is good news for people who are very motivated to get rid of their diabetes. But it is too early to regard this as suitable for everyone. That is a separate question and a major study is underway to answer this.”
Participants in this study had Type 2 diabetes for between six months and 23 years. The team showed that Type 2 diabetes could be reversed even in people who had the condition for 10 years.
The team were able to identify in advance participants who would not respond to adequate weight loss by reversing their diabetes as at the start they had almost absent insulin production from the pancreas.
The study was funded by a National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR BRC) grant.
A larger trial involving 280 patients is already underway. This will examine how successfully people can reverse their diabetes through weight loss simply under the care of their family doctor and nurse. It is being funded by Diabetes UK.
The research was possible through Newcastle Academic Health Partners, a collaboration involving Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University. This partnership harnesses world-class expertise to ensure patients benefit sooner from new treatments, diagnostics and prevention strategies.
· 3 diet shakes per day and 240 grams of non-starchy vegetables taking in between 600 and 700kcal a day for 8 weeks
· volunteers then gradually returned to eating normal food over the next two weeks with very careful instruction on how much to eat
· volunteers were seen once a month and supported with an individualized weight maintenance programme over the next 6 months
· to keep weight steady after the weight loss, they were eating around one third less than before the study
Allan Tutty, 57, from Sunderland, transformed his health by taking part in the study.
He said: “I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes around May 2011 during routine checks by my GP but my family and I were in disbelief because I had no physical symptoms which led me to consider I had the condition.
“While I didn’t feel fat, I was fat – on the inside. I’ve since seen a scan of my liver and you can see the fat around it.
“I took part in the research spending eight weeks on an 800-calorie a day diet which was really tough over Christmas and New Year but I was determined to complete it. The pay-off for me – the possible reversal of my diabetes – was more than worth the effort.
“In the two months, I lost two and a half stones and my pancreas was working within normal limits. With my diabetes in remission, I haven’t looked back.
“I eat normal foods though I eat less than I used to, and I enjoy takeaways and chocolate but not on a regular basis so I have maintained my lower weight, it has been a total lifestyle change. In fact, my life has changed completely thanks to this research.”
Public Release: 22-Mar-2016
Why do sunbathers live longer than those who avoid the sun?
New research looks into the paradox that women who sunbathe are likely to live longer than those who avoid the sun, even though sunbathers are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer.
An analysis of information on 29,518 Swedish women who were followed for 20 years revealed that longer life expectancy among women with active sun exposure habits was related to a decrease in heart disease and noncancer/non-heart disease deaths, causing the relative contribution of death due to cancer to increase.
Whether the positive effect of sun exposure demonstrated in this observational study is mediated by vitamin D, another mechanism related to UV radiation, or by unmeasured bias cannot be determined. Therefore, additional research is warranted.
“We found smokers in the highest sun exposure group were at a similar risk as non-smokers avoiding sun exposure, indicating avoidance of sun exposure to be a risk factor of the same magnitude as smoking,” said Dr. Pelle Lindqvist, lead author of the Journal of Internal Medicine study. “Guidelines being too restrictive regarding sun exposure may do more harm than good for health.”
Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
Increased vitamin C in the diet could help protect against cataracts
King’s College London
Higher dietary intake of vitamin C has been found to have a potentially preventative effect on cataract progression in the first twin study of cataracts to examine to what degree genetic and environmental factors influence their progression with age.
Cataract is a common condition in which the lens of the eye becomes cloudy as a result of oxidation over time. Whilst this is a natural part of ageing for many, for others it is more severe and causes blurred vision, glare and dazzle that cannot be corrected by glasses or contact lenses.
Cataract surgery is the most common operation performed in the UK with more than 300,000 procedures carried out each year.
The study, led by King’s College London and published in the journal Ophthalmology, looked at the progression of cataracts in the eyes of 324 pairs of female twins from the Twins UK registry over 10 years by examining photographs of the participant’s lenses that allowed them to analyse the level of opacity of the lens in detail. Participant intake of vitamin C was also measured using a food questionnaire.
They found that those participants who had a higher intake of vitamin C were associated with a 33 per cent risk reduction of cataract progression and had ‘clearer’ lenses after the 10 years than those who had consumed less vitamin C as part of their diet.
The study, funded by the Wellcome Trust and Guide Dogs for the Blind, also found that environmental factors (including diet) influenced cataract more than genetic factors, which only explained a third of the change in lens opacity.
The fluid in the eye that bathes the lens is high in vitamin C, which helps to stop the lens from oxidising and protects it from becoming cloudy. It is thought that increased intake of vitamin C has a protective effect on cataract progression by increasing the vitamin C available in the eye fluid.
Professor Chris Hammond, consultant eye surgeon and lead author of the study from the Division of Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences, said: ‘The findings of this study could have significant impact, particularly for the ageing population globally by suggesting that simple dietary changes such as increased intake of fruit and vegetables as part of a healthier diet could help protect them from cataracts.
‘While we cannot avoid getting older, diabetes and smoking are also risk factors for this type of cataract, and so a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle generally should reduce the risk of needing a cataract operation.’
Kate Yonova-Doing, the study’s first author said: ‘The human body cannot manufacture vitamin C, so we depend on vitamins in the food we eat. We did not find a significantly reduced risk in people who took vitamin tablets, so it seems that a healthy diet is better than supplements.’
Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in the world, affecting approximately 20 million people, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa where healthcare is less readily available.
Limitations of the study include that the participants are predominantly of UK-origin and female, reflecting cataract progression between the ages of 60 and 70 years on average, so may not be generalisable.
Also, observational studies like this cannot rule out the impact of other factors relating to a healthy diet that may also have had an effect on the progression of cataracts.