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LIFE EXTENSION UPDATE AUGUST 11 2000
IN THIS ISSUE: LIFE EXTENSION MAGAZINE AUGUST 2000 ISSUE NOW ONLINE:
Antioxidants under attack; LIFE EXTENSION UPDATE EXCLUSIVE: Human growth
hormone helps Crohn's disease patients; WHAT'S HOT: Bacteria suspect in
Crohn's disease; PROTOCOL: Crohn's disease; PRODUCT OF THE WEEK:
LIFE EXTENSION MAGAZINE AUGUST 2000 ISSUE
Antioxidants under attack
Consumers of vitamin supplements have been hit with a lot of negative
press lately, and The Life Extension Foundation has been on the forefront
in evaluating whether these anti-supplement reports have scientific merit.
On April 10, 2000, the National Academy of Sciences issued a press release
"Insufficient evidence exists to support claims that taking megadoses of
dietary antioxidants, such as selenium and vitamins C and E, or
carotenoids, including beta-carotene, can prevent chronic diseases."
This report received widespread media attention, and many news articles
questioned the value of dietary supplements altogether. The National
Academy of Sciences' press release was based on the conclusions of a
512-page book that ostensibly looked at all the published scientific
literature about the intake of certain nutrients and subsequent risk of
The name of this 512-page book is Dietary Reference Intakes For Vitamin C,
Vitamin E, Selenium and the Carotenoids. This book contains a startling
contradiction. The negative conclusions drawn by the authors are opposite
to the positive findings about the supplements that are described in the
very same book. This contradiction is not surprising, considering that the
book is authored by two "committees" comprised of 40 members.
The book omits published studies about antioxidants. It also fails to take
into account that supplement takers usually consume a wide variety of
nutrients to protect their health, not just vitamin C or E alone.
LIFE EXTENSION UPDATE EXCLUSVIE: Human growth hormone helps Crohn's
In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers
evaluated the effect of the administration of human growth hormone on
thirty-seven patients with moderate to severe active Crohn's disease.
Patients self-injected either a placebo or 5 mg growth hormone for the
first week of the study, followed by a maintenance dose of 1.5 mg per day.
The study partcipants were instructed to consume least two grams of
protein per kilogram body weight on a daily basis. Patients continued
their other medications. The participants scored the severity of eight
different symptoms at the beginning and throughout the study on the
Crohn's Disease Activity Index. Higher scores correlated with greater
severity of symptoms. After one month, the patients who received the
growth hormone had a greater decrease in scores than the placebo group.
This improvement continued and was greater after four months at the
conclusion of the study. The only side effects observed in this group
were edema and headache, which usually resolved within the first month.
Also observed at the end of the study was the ability of those who
received growth hormone to discontinue over half of the drugs previously
found to be necessary. By contrast, the placebo group increased their
drug intake by 4%. At the end of the four months, half of the patients
who received growth hormone and who still required medication were able to
reduce their medication dose.
The authors of the study concluded that a large multicenter study should
be conducted to confirm these results, which preliminarily indicate that
growth hormone may be of help to people with Crohn's disease.
Bacteria suspect in Crohns's disease
The July issue of the journal Gastroenterology reported on the discovery
by researchers at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, of
evidence of a bacteria in the affected areas of Crohn's disease. Crohn's
disease is an incurable, chronic intestinal disorder, in which sufferers
develop a weak and inflamed gastrointestinal tract, which causes severe
abdominal pain and diarrhea. This leads to many related complications and
increases the risk of colorectal cancer. The cause of Crohn's is unknown,
but the disease has been believed to be an autoimmune disorder, in which
the body attacks itself.
The researchers in this report examined intestinal lesions from 212
patients. They analyzed lesions caused by the disease and compared them to
other intestinal mucosal tissue. A specific bacterial genetic sequence was
present in 43% of the Crohn's lesions compared to being found in 5% of
specimens derived from patients with noninflammatory bowel disease lesions
and 9% of ulcerative colitis specimens. Antibodies to the sequence were
also much higher in the serum of Crohn's disease patients than in other
The method used in the study looked for DNA segments from a microorgansim
found in Crohn's patients, but the researchers as yet have not identified
the bacteria. It is possible that it is one that is well known, or it
could be a new discovery. It is not known yet whether this bacteria is the
cause of disease, but researchers hope to pinpoint its identity so that
therapies can be developed that will target it.
This research indicates that the body's immune response to a microorgansim
could be the culprit in Crohn's. In the same issue of Gastroenterology, Dr
Charles O Elson commented, "It seems likely that many antigens and
microorganisms will be involved in stimulating the inflammation."
Crohn's disease is a chronic disorder of the intestines. Of unknown
etiology, the gastrointestinal tract in persons suffering from this
disease becomes inflamed and weak, making digestion difficult and leading
to general physical debility. The symptoms are similar to ulcerative
colitis, and they are both categorized as inflammatory bowel diseases; to
distinguish between them, your doctor may need to examine a sample of
Crohn's disease can attack any part of your intestines from the mouth to
the anus, but most commonly it strikes the ileum (lower portion of the
small intestine) or the colon (large intestine). Ulcers form on the inner
intestinal lining and eventually spread through the intestinal wall. As
the affected part of the intestine becomes scarred and thick, the passage
narrows, disrupting nutrient absorption and normal bowel function.
A 1998 German study examined deficiencies of vitamins and trace elements
in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. The records from 392
outpatients-279 with Crohn's disease and 113 with ulcerative colitis-were
analyzed. Deficiencies were found in 85% of patients with Crohn's disease,
predominantly deficiencies of iron and calcium. Less frequently,
deficiencies of zinc, protein, cyanocobalamin, and folic acid were found.
Given this broad cross section of deficiencies, a basic multivitamin
nutrient supplement may be helpful to stave off secondary weakness and
complications from such deficiencies. Note that calcium deficiency, in
particular, carries with it a risk of osteoporosis.
A published Scandinavian study suggests that fiber, starches, glutamine,
and fish oils may all help Crohn's patients with issues of malnutrition.
PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
L-glutamine is an amino acid which can be used for energy in the brain. It
is recommended for alcoholism, hypoglycemia and fatigue. L-glutamine is
used by athletes to improve exercise endurance.
For more information about glutamine see Life Extension Magazine September
"Glutamine: The essential nonessential amino acid".
Glutamine is classified as a "nonessential amino acid." This label may
mislead some people into believing that we don't need it. But, in essence,
"nonessential" means only that the body can synthesize this amino acid. It
does not mean "unimportant."
In fact, glutamine is of crucial importance; we are lucky that we do not
have to depend totally on dietary sources. It seems that every cell in the
body uses glutamine. Some tissue types, however, depend on glutamine much
more than others.
Please feel free to email me if you have questions about this ezine or
other life extension topics.
For longer life,
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