The Anticancer Benefits of Alpha-Carotene - Life Extension Blog


The importance of beta carotene, as it converts to retinol (vitamin A), and its involvement in health
and disease prevention are well-known. However, another carotenoid, alpha carotene, not only converts to vitamin A in the body, but also has benefits of its own.

Where Can You Find Alpha Carotene?

Like beta carotene, alpha carotene is found in a variety of vegetables and fruits. Alpha carotene (α-carotene) is also found in dietary supplements. Cleavage of alpha carotene in the body produces retinol and alpha retinol whereas cleavage of beta carotene produces two retinol molecules.1 Only a small amount of fat needs to be present for optimal alpha carotene absorption.2 In the National Survey of Dietary Intake in Spain (2009-2010), alpha carotene was determined to represent 12.8% of provitamin A carotenoids.3 Specific locations on three chromosomes were recently identified as being associated with serum alpha carotene levels.4

Mortality Risk

A study reported in JAMA Internal Medicine that involved 15,318 adults enrolled in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Follow-up Study revealed a 23% lower adjusted risk of death from any cause over an average 13.9 year follow-up period among those whose serum alpha carotene levels were 2-3 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) in comparison with participants whose levels were 0-1 mcg/dL.5 For participants whose levels were 4-5 mcg/dL, 6-8 mcg/dL, and 9 mcg/dL or more, the respective risks were 27%, 34%, and 39% lower.

The researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UCLA also uncovered decreasing risks of mortality from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other causes over follow-up in association with rising alpha carotene levels. Authors Chaoyang Li, MD, PhD, and colleagues note that “Although alpha carotene is chemically similar to beta carotene, in vivo study results suggest that alpha carotene is about 10 times more effective than beta carotene in inhibiting the proliferation of human neuroblastoma cells; that alpha carotene, but not beta carotene, has a potent inhibitory effect against liver carcinogenesis; and that alpha carotene is more effective than beta carotene in inhibiting the tumor-promoting action of glycerol in lung carcinogenesis and skin tumor promotion.

An investigation involving 13,293 men and women enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III, 1988–1994, uncovered a 46% higher risk of all-cause mortality through 2006 among those whose serum alpha carotene levels were among the lowest 25% in comparison with those whose levels were among the highest.6

Colon Health

An assessment of the effects of carotenoids and vitamin A on the risk of recurring colon polyps (which can be a precursor of colorectal cancer), found that participants in the Polyp Prevention Trial whose serum alpha carotene levels were among the top 25% of subjects had a 45% lower risk of recurrence.7 Those with a higher dietary intake of alpha carotene with or without supplements also had a lower risk of developing new polyps. A case-control study in China that matched 538 individuals with colorectal cancer with 564 subjects who did not have the disease found that those whose serum alpha carotene levels were among the highest 25% had a 51% lower risk of colorectal cancer compared to those whose serum levels were among the lowest 25%.8

Lung Cancer

An analysis of a case-control study of lung cancer uncovered a 30% lower risk of the disease among subjects with the highest one-third of alpha carotene intake in comparison with those whose intake was among the lowest third.9 When examined according to smoking status, having a high-intake of alpha-carotene was protective against lung cancer in men who were heavy smokers. A meta-analysis of five prospective studies that provided data concerning blood concentrations of carotenoids and retinol among determined a 34% lower risk of lung cancer per each 5 mcg/100 milliliter alpha carotene.10

Moreover, results from a population-based, case-control study of the association between the consumption of fruits and vegetables and risk of lung cancer suggest that consumption of yellow-orange (carrots, sweet potatoes or pumpkin, and winter squash) and dark green (broccoli, green beans, green peas, spinach, turnip greens, collards, and leaf lettuce) vegetables, which have a high alpha carotene content, was more strongly associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer than was consumption of all other types of vegetables.

Breast Cancer

In an investigation that included 2,188 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study who developed breast cancer over a 20-year period who were matched with women who did not develop the disease, having a plasma level of alpha carotene that was among the top 20% of subjects was associated with a 26% lower risk of breast cancer during follow-up than subjects whose levels were among the lowest 20%, and for recurrent or lethal breast cancer, the risk was 46% lower.11

A prospective analysis of 185,885 adults enrolled in the Multiethnic Cohort Study found an 8% lower adjusted risk of invasive bladder cancer in men and a 48% lower adjusted risk in women whose alpha carotene intake was among the top 25% in comparison with those whose intake was among the lowest quarter of subjects.12

In a meta-analysis of 10 studies that examined the associations between carotenoid intake and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, subjects whose intake of alpha carotene was highest had a 13% lower risk of the disease compared to those whose intake was among the lowest.13 Of the carotenoids examined, a significant inverse dose-response relationship existed only between alpha carotene and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma risk, which was 13% lower per each 1,000 mcg per day increment of intake.

Heart Disease

In a study that included 34 subjects with coronary heart disease and 40 control subjects, plasma alpha carotene and gamma-tocopherol levels were significantly lower in the heart disease patients.14 “These data suggest that plasma levels of alpha carotene and gamma-tocopherol may represent markers of atherosclerosis in humans.,” A. Kontush and colleagues conclude. “Measuring these antioxidants may be of clinical importance as a practical approach to assess atherogenesis and/or its risk.”

Bone Health and Eye Health

In addition to cancer and heart disease, consuming more alpha carotene may also help protect the bones and eyes. Among participants in the prospective European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Norfolk, a lower risk of hip fracture was observed among men with higher plasma alpha carotene levels, and increased bone density among women who had a higher intake.15 A 2015 study found that people with the highest intakes of α-carotene maintained macular health better than those with lower intakes of α-carotene.16

Obesity and Chronic Disease

Research suggests further roles for alpha carotene. “Serum alpha carotene may provide a deeper and clinically relevant purpose, beyond previous suggestions for its use as a biomarker for fruit and vegetable consumption, in that alpha carotene may be a biomarker for chronic disease risk frequently linked with obesity,” note E. T. Nuss and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “As humans begin to live over a century, determining biomarkers of ultimate health is important. Alpha carotene does not have the same distribution in the food supply as beta carotene and therefore is often overlooked in surveys.”1

References

  1. Nuss ET et al. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2017 Jan 1:1535370217706962.
  2. Roodenburg AJC et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 May;71(5):1187-93.
  3. Beltrán-de-Miguel B et al. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2015;66(6):706-12.
  4. D’Adamo CR et al. J Nutrigenet Nutrigenomics. 2016;9(5-6):254-264.
  5. Li C et al. Arch Intern Med. 2011 Mar 28;171(6):507-15.
  6. Shardell MD et al. Nutr Res. 2011 Mar;31(3):178-89.
  7. Steck-Scott S et al. Int J Cancer. 2004 Nov 1;112(2):295-305.
  8. Huang J et al. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 Jun 12.
  9. Shareck M et al. Front Oncol. 2017 Feb 28;7:23.
  10. Abar L et al. Cancer Med. 2016 Aug;5(8):2069-83.
  11. Eliassen AH et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jun;101(6):1197-205.
  12. Park SY et al. J Nutr. 2013 Aug;143(8):1283-92.
  13. Chen F et al. Ann Hematol. 2017 Jun;96(6):957-965.
  14. Kontush A et al. Atherosclerosis. 1999 May;144(1):117-22.
  15. Hayhoe RPG et al. Br J Nutr. 2017 May;117(10):1439-1453.
  16. Wu J et al. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2015 Dec;133(12):1415-24.

Asbestos: A Toxin Used Legally in the US Causes Cancer

Rachel Lynch

Health is impacted by what we eat, how much we exercise, and our environment. Attempting to
achieve great health in each of these three categories can be difficult — especially within our environment. Outdoor air quality is a hot topic — and for good reason — but there are dangers in the air we breathe indoors as well. A toxin not visible to the naked eye could cut your life short.

What Is Asbestos and Mesothelioma?

Asbestos is a microscopic, naturally occurring fiber that was commonly used in building materials through the 1970s because of its fire retardant properties. Unfortunately, the material also causes mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. When asbestos is disturbed, the asbestos dust is inhaled and embedded in the lining of the organs. The three main types of mesothelioma occur in the lungs, heart, and the abdominal cavity. The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural, occurring in the lining of the lungs. Mesothelioma has also been described in the testicles but little is known about the form.

The disease has a long latency period: Symptoms typically do not manifest until 20 to 50 years after asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma symptoms are particular to where the cancer develops, which makes diagnosis difficult because each form presents itself differently. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma impact lung function, resulting in fluid build-up in the lungs and difficulty breathing. Patients with pleural mesothelioma symptoms are often misdiagnosed as having more common illnesses such as the flu or pneumonia. These roadblocks to proper diagnosis often lead to patients going undiagnosed until the cancer is stage three or four and has spread. At this stage of the disease, prognosis is poor and often treatment options are no longer viable. Patients are typically only given 12 to 21 months to live. There is currently no cure for mesothelioma so the best course of action is to avoid asbestos exposure.

How Does Asbestos Exposure Occur?

There have been three waves of asbestos exposure. The first involved those who worked with the materials — mostly male employees of industrial companies or the military. The second wave occurred when the asbestos fibers were brought home on the clothing of those workers and they unknowingly exposed their families to the toxin. The third and current wave of asbestos exposure is due in part to the DIY craze. Homeowners undertaking their own home renovations are unaware of the possibility of asbestos in their home and do not take the necessary precautions. If your home was built prior to the 1980s, it is best to have a professional inspect your home for asbestos before beginning any renovation project.

Where Was Asbestos Used?

Asbestos was used in many building materials including insulation, roofing, and floor and ceiling tiles. The toxin was also used in wallpaper, paneling, furnaces, and boilers. In addition to building materials, asbestos has been found in automotive materials such as brake pads, brake linings, transmission plates, and clutch linings.

Is Asbestos Still Legal?

While asbestos is no longer mined in the United States, the toxin is still legal to use and regularly imported. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did try to achieve a complete ban of asbestos in the 1970s but their efforts were overturned after those benefiting from its use protested. In 2007 action was taken again when a bill called the “Ban Asbestos in America Act” passed the Senate unanimously. Unfortunately, the bill was thwarted in the House and never made it to the president's desk. While a complete asbestos ban is expected in Canada this year, other developing countries are experiencing a growth of asbestos trade and use. A complete ban of asbestos in the United States is not expected under the current presidential administration.

About:

Rachel Lynch is the Press and Media Coordinator for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, specializing in asbestos use around the world.

References:

  1. Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Mesothelioma Cancer. https://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/
  2. The Medical Journal of Australia. Increasing incidence of malignant mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos during home maintenance and renovation. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2011/195/5/increasing-incidence-malignant-mesothelioma-after-exposure-asbestos-during-home
  3. Asbestos Nation. Why isn’t asbestos banned in the United States? http://www.asbestosnation.org/facts/why-isnt-asbestos-banned-in-the-united-states/




The Role of Essential Amino Acid Lysine in Health and Disease

Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning that it must be consumed by dietary means and cannot be manufactured within the body. It occurs in protein-containing foods, such as eggs, meat, and dairy products, and is abundant in beans and legumes. While most people in developed nations consume an adequate amount of lysine, some may be deficient depending on their diet, among other factors.

Lysine can exist in a “D or L” form (which refers to the chirality of the molecule). However, the L form of lysine is the essential component of the diet and is the form available in dietary supplements.

Lysine for Protection Against Glycation

While lysine’s most important role is in protein synthesis, a critical action for the amino acid is in the prevention of glycation: the nonenzymatic bonding of a sugar molecule to a protein or fat that results in the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which damage tissues, including the lining of the arteries. A similar phenomenon, known as glycosylation, refers to enzymatic bonding of carbohydrates to proteins or fats. Diabetics, who have elevated blood glucose levels, experience an increase in glycation-related damage.

Glucose in the body bonds to proteins that contain lysine. According to the authors of a study that found an 86% reduction in the glycation of collagen in the kidneys of rats that received L-lysine prior to the induction of elevated blood glucose, “The rationale is that the administered lysine would combine with the circulating glucose and make it unavailable to react with epsilon-amino groups of lysine of various proteins in these diabetic rats.”1

Lysine and Cataracts

In cataract formation, which involves glycation of the crystalline lens, a drug that contains L-lysine inhibited the early stages of protein glycation and the formation of advanced glycation end products.2 L-lysine has also been demonstrated to inhibit the glycation of fibrinogen (involved in blood clotting) in the plasma of type 2 diabetics.3

Lysine and Diabetics

In patients being treated for type 2 diabetes, 3 grams of L-lysine per day reduced advanced glycation end products in serum and reversed lysozyme glycation, thereby increasing its activity.4 (Lysozyme is an antimicrobial enzyme that forms a part of the innate immune system.) “Structure and function of glycated lysozyme are significantly improved by L-lysine; therefore it can be considered an effective therapeutic supplementation in type 2 diabetes mellitus, decreasing the risk of infection in these patients,” authors H. Mirmiranpour and colleagues conclude.

Interestingly, lysine ingested with glucose resulted in a 44% decrease in the 2.5-hour serum glucose response without a change in insulin response in comparison with the serum response to glucose alone in a study that involved healthy participants.5

Lysine and Herpes Simplex Virus

One of lysine’s best-known uses is as an aid to suppress herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) or HSV2. The virus is the cause of “cold sores” or “fever blisters” that appear on the lips, mouth, or genitals. While there are several prescription drugs that can treat HSV, L-lysine is used by some individuals to help maintain results during periods in which drugs are not being used to treat active lesions.

The rationale for using L-lysine against HSV is based on the fact that L-lysine has a competitive relationship with another amino acid, L-arginine, which is needed for HSV to replicate. In research conducted in tissue cultures, lysine antagonized the ability of L-arginine to promote viral growth, thereby suppressing HSV replication.6

Although plenty of anecdotal evidence exists in favor of the use of L-lysine against herpes, clinical data is limited. An early double-blind multicenter trial in which men and women with recurrent herpes simplex infection received 1 gram L-lysine from L-lysine monohydrochloride or a placebo three times daily for six months resulted in an average of 2.4 fewer HSV infections, decreased severity of symptoms and reduced healing time among those who received the amino acid.7 In a double-blind crossover study involving subjects with frequently recurring herpetic lesions, one gram L-lysine daily was associated with fewer lesions in comparison with the control group.8 Researchers D. J. Thein and W. C. Hurt found that when serum lysine levels exceeded 165 nanomoles per milliliter, herpes lesion recurrence decreased significantly. “These results suggest that prophylactic lysine may be useful in managing selected cases of recurrent herpes simplex labialis if serum lysine levels can be maintained at adequate concentrations,” they conclude.

Another, crossover study, found positive effects for 1,248 milligrams (mg) L-lysine monohydrochloride daily in the prevention of HSV lesions, but no benefit for 624 mg per day in comparison with a placebo.9 In a survey of 1,543 subjects with HSV, 84% reported that supplementation with L-lysine prevented recurrence or decreased the frequency of lesions, while decreasing symptom severity and healing time. Eighty-eight percent considered supplemental L-lysine effective.10

Cold sores, while generally considered an annoyance, could have more serious implications. Herpes simplex type 1 has been found in the cerebrums of the majority of older adults, in many areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Herpes encephalitis, a condition in which HSV causes severe brain infection, has been known to result in memory loss. It has been hypothesized that L-lysine supplementation could help protect against the development of Alzheimer’s.11

Lysine and Heart Disease

Another use for lysine is in the prevention of atherosclerosis. According to Nobel Prize-winning scientist Linus Pauling, "Knowing that lysyl residues are what causes lipoprotein(a) to stick to the wall of the artery and form atherosclerotic plaques, any physical chemist would say at once that to prevent that put the amino acid lysine in the blood to a greater extent than it is normally. You need lysine, it is essential, you have to get about one gram a day to keep protein in balance, but we can take lysine, pure lysine, a perfectly nontoxic substance as supplements, which puts extra lysine molecules in the blood. They enter into competition with the lysyl residues on the wall of arteries and accordingly count to prevent lipoprotein(a) from being deposited, or even will work to pull it loose and destroy atherosclerotic plaques."12

The Impact of Lysine

Due to its presence in protein sources, it’s no surprise that a high lysine diet also benefits muscle. A study in young men who consumed 80 mg lysine per kilogram body weight resulted in improved muscle strength after eight weeks.13 The finding is of relevance to the residents of developing countries whose populations are at risk of lysine deficiency. In Ghana, a randomized trial of L-lysine supplementation that included men, women, and children resulted in decreased diarrheal episodes and number of days ill among the children and fewer colds and number of days ill among the men.14 The authors note that lysine impacts diarrhea as well as anxiety by its effects on serotonin receptors, intestinal repair, and opioid peptide transport.

“Lysine could be viewed as the ‘forgotten’ amino acid in human nutrition,” writes D. H. Baker in the Journal of Nutrition.15 “This amino acid is rich in the food supply of developed countries. However, in poor countries where cereals dominate the food supply, lysine is the most limiting amino acid in the food supply.”

“Lysine has probably been studied more in animal nutrition than any other amino acid, but it has not received the same degree of emphasis in human nutrition. This is perhaps because few pharmacologic uses for lysine in the clinical setting have been advanced.” It is to be hoped that this “forgotten” amino acid will be remembered in future research and that additional uses in human health are uncovered.

References

  1. Jyothirmayi GN. Nephron. 2001 Feb;87(2):148-54.
  2. Marques C et al. Doc Ophthalmol. 1995;90(4):395-404.
  3. Mirmiranpour H et al. Thromb Res. 2012 Sep;130(3):e13-9.
  4. Mirmiranpour H et al. Acta Med Iran. 2016 Jan;54(1):24-31.
  5. Kalogeropoulou D et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Aug;90(2):314-20.
  6. Griffith RS et al. Chemotherapy. 1981;27(3):209-13.
  7. Griffith RS et al. Dermatologica. 1987;175(4):183-90.
  8. Thein DJ et al. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol. 1984 Dec;58(6):659-66.
  9. McCune MA et al. Cutis. 1984 Oct;34(4):366-73.
  10. Walsh DE et al. J Antimicrob Chemother. 1983 Nov;12(5):489-96.
  11. Rubey RN. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2010 Oct 27;6:707-10.
  12. Fonorow O. “No Prescription Required.” Linus Pauling’s Therapy® www.paulingtherapy.com 1996. Accessed 2017 July 19.
  13. Unni US et al. Clin Nutr. 2012 Dec;31(6):903-10.
  14. Ghosh S et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Oct;92(4):928-39.
  15. Baker DH. J Nutr. 2007 Jun;137(6 Suppl 2):1599S-1601S.

The Health Benefits of Chondroitin Sulfate Supplements - Life Extension Blog

The benefits of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine in osteoarthritis have been described as life-changing by millions of arthritis sufferers over the past several decades. Both are components of cartilage, the tissue that connects our bones.

Chondroitin sulfate is a sulfated glycosaminoglycan that is a component of a cartilage molecule known as aggrecan.1 Four fractions have been identified: chondroitin-4-sulfate, chondroitin-6-sulfate, chondroitin-2,6-sulfate, and chondroitin-4,6-sulfate. While it has been suggested that glucosamine, the smaller molecule, is better absorbed than the larger chondroitin sulfate, both compounds have been effective in studies of arthritis patients.

Do Chondroitin Sulfate Supplements Get Absorbed?

A question has been raised concerning whether orally administered chondroitin sulfate results in the molecule being directly incorporated into cartilage. It has been suggested that chondroitin sulfate’s metabolic byproducts could be responsible for the benefits documented in clinical and experimental research. It is, however, notable that a study in which chondroitin sulfate was orally administered to 20 human subjects detected a more than 200% increase in plasma chondroitin sulfate levels, with the peak concentration reached after 2 hours.2 “This research extends previous results obtained by other researchers in man and experimental animals, both with chondroitin sulfate and other polysaccharides, confirming that molecules possessing high molecular mass and charge density can be absorbed orally,” author N. Volpi, of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia concluded.

Relief from Osteoarthritis Pain and Inflammation

In a three-month randomized trial published in 1992 that included patients with osteoarthritis of the knees and hips, chondroitin sulfate decreased pain and the need for NSAIDs.3 This effect was carried over into a two-month, treatment-free phase following the initial treatment period. Another trial, involving patients with knee, hip and/or finger joint arthritis, resulted in a significant reduction in severe pain reflected in a 72% decrease in the need for NSAIDs during a three-month course of chondroitin sulfate therapy.4 The authors remarked that the reduction of pain to a level that could not have been achieved by NSAID therapy alone was of special interest.

Another randomized, double-blind trial compared the anti-inflammatory effects of chondroitin sulfate and the NSAID diclofenac sodium in 146 knee osteoarthritis patients.5 While participants who received NSAID therapy had more rapid relief of their symptoms (which reappeared at the end of treatment), those who received chondroitin sulfate experienced a later response which lasted for up to three months after the end of treatment.

In yet another randomized comparison trial, osteoarthritis patients treated with anti-inflammatory drugs who also received chondroitin sulfate and ibuprofen daily for six months had less pain and need for anti-inflammatories than those who received ibuprofen alone.6 This response also persisted for three months after the conclusion of the treatment phase.

A comparison of chondroitin sulfate plus naproxen to naproxen alone resulted in reduced progression of joint erosion among patients with osteoarthritis of the hands after two years of treatment.7 The number of finger joints with erosions detected by x-rays at two years was lower among those who received chondroitin sulfate compared to those who received naproxen alone.

In the recent ChONdroitin versus CElecoxib versus Placebo Trial(CONCEPT) trial, which compared the effects of chondroitin sulfate, the NSAID drug celecoxib, and a placebo among patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, pain reduction and improvement in function in association with chondroitin sulfate was similar to that of the NSAID and significantly greater than the placebo after 182 days of daily treatment.8 The authors recommend that chondroitin sulfate be considered a first-line treatment in the management of knee osteoarthritis.

Chondroitin sulfate is frequently combined with glucosamine to treat osteoarthritis symptoms. A randomized, double-blind, crossover trial of chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride (HCl) and manganese ascorbate conducted among U.S. Navy personnel with degenerative joint disease resulted in knee symptom relief.9 In another trial, the combination helped lower an index of severity of osteoarthritis of the knee at 4 and 6 months of treatment in patients with mild to moderate disease.10 Fifty-two percent of those who received chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine HCl and manganese ascorbate twice per day experienced a response to the treatment in comparison with 28% who received a placebo.

Chondroitin sulfate is not a pain blocker, but helps relieve pain by supporting the structure of the joint.11 In a pilot trial of 69 knee osteoarthritis patients, chondroitin sulfate consumed daily was associated with less cartilage volume loss at six months and 12 months as assessed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).12 “These findings suggest a joint structure protective effect of chondroitin sulfate and provide new in vivo information on its mode of action in knee osteoarthritis,” L. M. Wildi and colleagues conclude.

In a trial that included 300 participants with osteoarthritis of the knee, treatment with chondroitin sulfates was associated with the maintenance of cartilage at two years as revealed by x-ray evaluation of the knee joint.13 Those who received a placebo worsened over time. The author of the report concluded that chondroitin sulfates are “superior to the placebo with regard to the stabilization of minimum joint space width of the internal femorotibial articular space, the mean thickness and the surface.”

How Long Does Chondroitin Sulfate Take to Work?

Arthritis doesn’t develop overnight. Neither can chondroitin sulfate be expected to work immediately. It typically takes weeks for the effects of chondroitin sulfate and/or glucosamine to be noticed, but benefits can be long lasting. Even when used intermittently for just three months twice yearly during a two-year period, chondroitin sulfate helped maintain joint space width in patients with knee osteoarthritis.14

A randomized trial that compared the effects of a once-daily chondroitin sulfate oral gel, three times daily chondroitin sulfate capsules, and a placebo in 127 patients resulted in both groups who received chondroitin experiencing a significant reduction in clinical symptoms.15 The authors note that the effects of a single daily dose did not differ from those of thrice daily administration for all parameters evaluated.

Additional Help

Other supplements, such as fish oil, Korean angelica and Boswellia serrata canbe added to one’s arthritis regimen if fast relief is needed.

References

  1. Felson DT et al. Ann Intern Med. 2007 Apr 17;146(8):611-2.
  2. Volpi N. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2002 Oct;10(10):768-77.
  3. Mazières B et al. Rev Rhum Mal Osteoartic. 1992 Jul-Sep;59(7-8):466-72.
  4. Leeb BF et al. Wien Med Wochenschr. 1996;146(24):609-14.
  5. Morreale P et al. J Rheumatol. 1996 Aug;23(8):1385-91.
  6. Alekseeva LI et al. Ter Arkh. 1999;71(5):51-3.
  7. Rovetta G et al. Int J Tissue React. 2002;24(1):29-32.
  8. Reginster JY et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2017 Sep;76(9):1537-1543.
  9. Leffler CT et al. Mil Med. 1999 Feb;164(2):85-91.
  10. Das A et al. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2000 Sep;8(5):343-50.
  11. Conrozier T. Presse Med. 1998 Nov 21;27(36):1862-5.
  12. Wildi LM et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2011 Jun;70(6):982-9.
  13. Mathieu P. Presse Med. 2002 Sep 14;31(29):1386-90.
  14. Uebelhart D et al. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2004 Apr;12(4):269-76.
  15. Bourgeois P et al. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 1998 May;6 Suppl A:25-30.

Does Happiness Lead to Longer Life? - Life Extension Blog

Most of us grew up with the belief that anything that was good for us had to be unpleasant. A boring diet containing plenty of unseasoned raw vegetables and grueling exercise routines. It almost seems as if long suffering can grant us long life.

What is happiness? Other than the absence of unhappiness, how does one define it? Peace,
enjoyment, fulfillment, health, pleasure, meeting and overcoming challenges: all of these and more are associated with the definition of happiness.

If You Are Happier, Will You Live Longer? 

A study assessed 9,365 men and women in 2002, 2004 and 2006 for subjective well-being, including enjoyment of life.1 A high level of enjoyment was reported by 20%, 22% and 34% in one, two and three respective assessments. Twenty-four percent of the subjects reported no enjoyment on any assessment. Over follow-up, 1,310 deaths occurred.

After adjusting for health, depressive symptoms, and other factors upon enrollment, those who reported high enjoyment of life at two assessments had a 17% lower risk of mortality compared to the group with no enjoyment. Among those who reported enjoyment at all three assessments, the risk was 24% lower. “The results add a new dimension to understanding the significance of subjective well-being for health outcomes by documenting the importance of sustained well-being over time,” authors P. Zaninotto and colleagues conclude.


Genetics and Environment 

A study involving 3,966 twins aged 70 years and older found that positive affect (experience of pleasurable emotions) and life satisfaction predicted lower mortality during a median follow-up period of nine years.2 Within-pair analyses of 400 nonidentical and 274 identical pairs of twins also uncovered a relationship between lower mortality and increased wellbeing, indicating that the association is independent of genes and shared environment.

Happiness Around The World

In a U.S. study that analyzed data from the General Social Survey-National Death Index for 31,481 men and women, those who rated themselves as “pretty happy” had a 6% higher adjusted risk of mortality over follow-up than those who were “very happy”.3 Subjects who were unhappy had a 14% higher risk. “Happy people live longer,” Elizabeth M. Lawrence and colleagues write. “Future research should seek to distinguish when and how happiness improves health and longevity.”

In Finland, a study of 22,461 adults found a linear increase in mortality over follow-up in association with dissatisfaction with life.4 Men who were categorized as dissatisfied had a 49% higher risk of mortality from any cause over the adjusted follow-up period.

In Thailand, a study of 60,569 adults followed for four years found that those who were happy little or none of the time were more than two and a half times as likely to die compared to those who were happy all the time.5 “Our study provides empirical evidence that the epidemiological effect of happiness is not confined to affluent Western countries, but it also increases the probability of staying alive in a middle-income Asian country,” the authors conclude.

In Japan, a study involving 88,175 men and women found that men who reported a low level of life enjoyment had a 75% higher risk of death from stroke, a 91% higher risk of dying from coronary heart disease and a 61% greater risk of total cardiovascular disease mortality over a median follow-up of 12 years in comparison with those with high enjoyment of life.6 Another Japanese study, involving 1,034 men and 1,413 women, found an association between subjective wellbeing and lower all-cause mortality in both men and women over a 7-year follow-up period.7

A Happy, Healthy Heart = Longer Life

A study that examined the effects of happiness among 862 men and 877 women found a 22% lower adjusted risk of coronary heart disease during 10 years of follow-up in association with positive affect.8 “Positive affect is defined as the experience of pleasurable emotions such as joy, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm, and contentment,” authors Karina W. Davidson and colleagues write. “Various mechanisms may explain the potential cardiovascular benefits of higher levels of positive affect. For example, positive affect, but not negative affect, has been shown to predict enhanced parasympathetic modulation of heart rate. Positive affect is associated with healthier blood pressure and cortisol levels in these same subjects.”

Mental Heath and Well-being

Some research suggests that regardless of one’s current financial status and age, happiness can still be a significant predictor of longevity. A study involving 400 low income, elderly residents of Connecticut found that happiness was significantly associated with a reduced risk of mortality over the course of a two-year follow-up, primarily among those who were not in good health.9

For those worried about growing older, a study involving 184 adults whose emotional states were reported five times daily for one week, repeated five and ten years later, found that overall emotional wellbeing and emotional stability improved over the years.10 After controlling for age, sex and ethnicity, subjects who experienced more positive than negative emotions were more likely to have survived over a 13-year period. “Evidence is growing that experiencing positive emotions may not only improve quality of life, it may add years to life,” L. L. Carstensen and colleagues conclude.

This information is not intended to minimize the importance of healthy habits and self-discipline in longevity. A sound diet, including the correction of nutritional deficiencies, regular physical activity, stimulation to the brain, and other factors are all of vital importance to one’s wellbeing. Happiness may be an important factor in living longer, but it’s not the only one.

“No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings,” the Dalai Lama observed in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. “We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering.”

Could it be that simple happiness is worth as much in years gained as 100 crunches followed by a cold shower and a kale smoothie? We still suggest following a prevention protocol.

But, it may be worthwhile to take the advice of Joseph Campbell: “Follow your bliss.”

References

  1. Zaninotto P et al. BMJ. 2016 Dec 13;355:i6267.
  2. Sadler ME et al. Twin Res Hum Genet. 2011 Jun;14(3):249-56.
  3. Lawrence EM et al. Soc Sci Med. 2015 Nov;145:115-9.
  4. Koivumaa-Honkanen H et al. Am J Epidemiol. 2000 Nov 15;152(10):983-91.
  5. Yiengprugsawan V et al. Biopsychosoc Med. 2014 Aug 7;8:18.
  6. Shira K et al. Circulation. 2009 Sep 15;120(11):956-63.
  7. Iwasa H et al. Nihon Ronen Igakkai Zasshi. 2005 Nov;42(6):677-83.
  8. Davidson KW et al. Eur Heart J. 2010 May;31(9):1065-70.
  9. Zuckerman DM et al. Am J Epidemiol. 1984 Mar;119(3):410-23.
  10. Carstensen LL et al. Psychol Aging. 2011 Mar;26(1):21-33.

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