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In the News

Yoga Eases Inflammation Caused by Aging, Stress

Omega-3s May Protect Against Cellular Aging in CAD Patients, Speed Sepsis Recovery

Vitamin E May Rescue Brain After Stroke

Diet May Halt Gene Modification in Smokers

Released: 02/01/10

Yoga Eases Inflammation Caused by Aging, Stress

Regular yoga practice may reduce the level of inflammation normally linked to normal aging and stress, a new study published online in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine has shown. The researchers concluded that women who routinely practiced yoga had lower amounts of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6, an important part of the body’s inflammatory response) in their blood.

Fifty women were divided into 2 groups based on their regular practice of yoga (“novices” vs “experts”). Participants performed tasks designed to increase their stress levels, after which they were asked to solve a series of difficult mathematics problems without paper or pencil. Following these “stressors,” participants would engage in a calming activity such as a yoga session, walking on treadmill set at a slow pace, or watching neutral videos.

Analysis of the blood samples taken from participants revealed that the novices had levels of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6 that were 41% higher than the experts. The experts also showed smaller increases in IL-6 after stressful experiences. Yoga’s ability to decrease inflammation to such a degree allows patients another option to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and arthritis.

Omega-3s May Protect Against Cellular Aging in CAD Patients, Speed Sepsis Recovery

A study of patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) in the January 20 issue of JAMA theorizes that omega-3 fatty acids may protect against cellular aging in this cohort.

Researchers conducted the study to determine whether omega-3 fatty acid blood levels affected leukocyte telomere length in 608 outpatients with stable coronary artery disease. Blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were measured over time with attention to changes in telomere length (longer is better). Telomeres are a region of repetitive DNA at the ends of chromosomes that protect the DNA and help it to replicate.

Individuals with the lowest levels of omega-3s experienced the most rapid rate of telomere shortening, and those in the highest quartile experienced the slowest rate. In other words, patients with stable coronary artery disease who had high baseline blood levels of marine omega-3 fatty acids had telomeres that did not shorten substantially over the next 5 years. Therefore, it may be possible that omega-3 fatty acids could protect against cellular aging.

Another study published in the January 19 issue of Critical Care found that adding omega 3–rich fish oil to intravenous solutions proved beneficial for intensive care patients with the potentially lethal blood infection sepsis. This study compared 13 patients who received fish oil in the normal IV nutrient solution given to sepsis patients with 10 patients who received traditional solutions. The patients who received the fish oil had lower levels of inflammatory chemicals in their blood, achieved better lung function, and had shorter hospital stays.

Vitamin E May Rescue Brain After Stroke

Tocotrienols in vitamin E may prevent nerve cell death in the brain following a stroke, suggests a study published online in the Journal of Neurochemistry: Alpha-tocotrienol, one of the least-studied forms of vitamin E, was found to inhibit an enzyme that normally releases neuron-killing fatty acids after a stroke.

In the incidence of a stroke, an excessive amount of the neurotransmitter glutamate is released in the brain. Glutamate triggers the enzyme cystolic calcium-dependent phospholipase A2 (cPLA2), which causes the death of neurons, the most damaging effect of stroke.

The researchers mimicked the brain’s environment after a stroke by introducing excess glutamate into the brain cells of mice. The excess glutamate triggered cPLA2, which released arachidonic acid into the brain; the arachidonic acid subsequently became toxic. When alpha-tocotrienol was introduced to cells exposed to the high levels of glutamate, arachidonic acid levels decreased by 60%, which resulted in a cell survival rate 4 times higher than cells exposed to glutamate alone.

Diet May Halt Gene Modification in Smokers

Green vegetables, multivitamins, and folate may protect current and former smokers against lung cancer, according to a study that appeared in the January 15 issue of Cancer Research. This study, supported by the National Cancer Institute, adds to the growing accumulation of research connecting high folate intake to decreased cancer rates.

In this study, researchers examined cells coughed up by 1101 predominately female current and former smokers from the Lovelace Smokers Cohort (New Mexico). Detailed study of the cells and comparison of those cells with self-reported profiles of smokers’ dietary intake of leafy green vegetables, multivitamins, and folate revealed that the dietary substances could be used to predict the prevalence of cellular gene methylation—a chemical modification used by the cell to control gene expression. High methylation is a potential marker for the early detection of lung cancer.

The study also investigated the associations between 21 dietary variables and methylation. Both higher intake of leafy green vegetables and higher intake of folate were significantly associated with a reduced probability of high methylation.

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