Sunday, September 8, 2013

Statins May Slow Human Aging

Not taking your prescribed statin regularly?

Statins May Extend Lifespans

Well, besides cholesterol lowering and prevention of cardiovascular disease, new research suggests that statins may extend lifespans as well… and not just the symptoms of aging.

Specifically, statins may reduce the rate at which telomeres shorten, a key factor in the natural aging process. This opens the door for using statins, or derivatives of statins, as an anti-aging therapy.

"By telomerase activation, statins may represent a new molecular switch able to slow down senescent cells in our tissues and be able to lead healthy lifespan extension," said Giuseppe Paolisso, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Internal Medicine, Surgical, Neurological Metabolic Disease and Geriatric Medicine at Second University of Naples in Naples, Italy.

To make this discovery, Paolisso and colleagues worked with two groups of subjects. The first group was under chronic statin therapy, and the second group (control), did not use statins. When researchers measured telomerase activity in both groups, those undergoing statin treatment had higher telomerase activity in their white blood cells, which was associated with lower telomeres shortening along with aging as compared to the control group. This strongly highlights the role of telomerase activation in preventing the excessive accumulation of short telomeres.

Other Benefits of Statins

Some observational studies have suggested that statins may decrease the risk of dementia and at least one small randomized trial has suggested that statins may slow the progression of dementia. And some other observational studies have raised the possibility that use of statins may decrease overall risk of cancer and of specific cancers.

Statins do have side effects. Although liver problems are rare, you should contact your doctor immediately if you have unusual fatigue or weakness, loss of appetite, pain in your upper abdomen, dark-colored urine, or yellowing of your skin or eyes. The most common side effect of statins is uscle pain. But very rarely, do statins cause life-threatening muscle damage called rhabdomyolysis. If you are concerned about statin side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.


The above story is based on August 29, 2013 news release by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

The research will appear in the September 2013 issue of The FASEB Journal:

Boccardi V, Barbieri M, Rizzo MR, Marfella R, Esposito A, Marano L, Paolisso G. A new pleiotropic effect of statins in elderly: modulation of telomerase activity. FASEB J., 2013; 27 (9): 3879 DOI: 10.1096/fj.13-232066

Click HERE for more on observational studies and randomized trials

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