Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Nutrition, Supplements / 06.01.2022 Interview with: Dr Rana Conway PhD RNutr  Research Fellow Energy Balance & Cancer Group, and Obesity Research Group Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health University College London What is the background for this study? Response: We’ve seen great advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment in recent years which means the number of people living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis is rapidly increasing. The WCRF and CRUK recommend improving diet and exercise to reduce the risks of cancer coming back but we know anecdotally that supplements are sometimes seen as an easier option, and people who’ve had cancer are often interested to know if they should be taking any supplements.    (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, NIH, Supplements / 08.01.2020 Interview with: Enrique Schisterman, Ph.D. Chief, Epidemiology Branch, DIPHR Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development NICHD What is the background for this study? Response: Small studies indicated that zinc and folic acid supplements for men might improve semen quality as both zinc and folic acid are involved in DNA transcription and have antioxidant functions. But no large-scale randomized trials have been done to assess efficacy, which is important since dietary supplements are largely unregulated, and FDA cannot regulate supplements until after they come to market. Some male fertility-targeted supplements are already among the most commonly sold supplement products, despite the lack of data to guide their use.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Supplements / 08.01.2020 Interview with: Jonathan P. Little PhD Associate Professor Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar Faculty of Health and Social Development School of Health and Exercise Sciences The University of British Columbia Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory Kelowna, BC  Canada What is the background for this study? Response: Ketones are energy-yielding molecules that are bodies naturally produce during periods of starvation or when we restrict carbohydrate intake. Recently, scientists from Oxford and the NIH have created exogenous ketone supplements, which now enable us to be able to drink ketones. This puts our body into a unique state – we can consume a drink that raises blood levels of ketones without having to starve or restrict carbohydrate intake. Some are even touting ketone supplements as a “fourth macronutrient”. Ketone supplements are primarily marketed for athletes to provide an alternative fuel for improving endurance exercise performance. We were actually studying how ketone supplements impacted exercise performance when we noticed that they consistently lowered blood glucose after participants consumed them. We went to the literature and found some classic papers where it was shown that infusing ketones did in fact lower glucose and the mechanism seemed to involve reducing liver glucose output. This was very exciting to us because we also study type 2 diabetes, a condition where blood sugars are too high and elevated liver glucose output is one of the major reasons. So we came up with the hypothesis that ketone supplements might be a unique strategy to help with blood glucose control. In the recent study, we tested this out in a randomized crossover experiment in 15 participants with overweight/obesity who were at risk for type 2 diabetes. Participants drank the ketone monoester supplement or a placebo and 30 minutes later they consumed an oral glucose tolerance test drink containing 75 grams of sugar. Blood samples were collected for 2 hours after the glucose test drink. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, Supplements / 16.12.2019 Interview with: Pieter A. Cohen, MD Department of Medicine, Cambridge Health Alliance Somerville, Massachusetts Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts What is the background for this study? Response: There has been increasing interest in the use of over-the-counter supplements to help improve memory and cognitive function.  However, prior studies have suggested that these types of supplements might contain unapproved investigational drugs. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Supplements, Vitamin C, Vitamin D / 09.07.2019 Interview with: Safi UKhan, MD Department of Internal Medicine Robert Packer Hospital Sayre, PA 18840 What is the background for this study? Response: There is substantial body of observational data favoring use of vitamins, supplements and special diets for improving cardiovascular health. However, such type of data is limited by various biases. Randomized controlled trial (RCT) is considered gold standard to evaluate effects of a therapy.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Hip Fractures, JAMA, Supplements / 13.05.2019 Interview with: Prof. Haakon E Meyer, PhD Department of Public Health and Global Health Norwegian Institute of Public Health Oslo, Norway What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The use of high dose vitamin supplementation is popular in parts of the population, often without any clear indication and in the absence of clear evidence of benefit. However, side effects can occur, and in a previous published secondary analysis of double blinded randomized controlled trials, we found to our surprise an increased risk of hip fracture in those supplemented with high doses of vitamin B6 in combination with vitamin B12. This finding was re-assessed in the current study employing data from the large observational Nurses' Health Study. As in the previous study, we found that a combined high intake of vitamin B6 and B12 was associated with increased risk of hip fracture. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Nutrition, Supplements, Weight Research / 08.03.2019 Interview with: Prof. Marjolein Visser PhD Professor of Healthy Aging Head section Nutrition and Health Department of Health Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Amsterdam Public Health research institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: More than 40 million Europeans experience a major depressive disorder. One in ten men, and one in five women suffer from clinical depression at least once during their lifetime. Depression is one of the most prevalent and disabling disorders in the EU. Given the increasing prevalence of depression, more people are actively searching for ways to decrease their risk through lifestyle modification, but are often overwhelmed by confusing and contradictory information. The MooDFOOD prevention trial is the largest randomized clinical trial to study the effects of nutritional strategies on the prevention of major depressive disorder. Over 1000 overweight or obese participants identified as being at elevated risk for depression but who were not currently depressed, from four European countries -the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain, took part in the study. Participants were randomized to either take nutritional supplements containing folic acid, vitamin D, zinc, selenium or to a pill placebo, and half of participants also received a behavioral lifestyle intervention intended to change dietary behaviors and patterns. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, Supplements / 30.01.2019 Interview with: Dr. Scott Litofsky, MD Division of Neurological Surgery University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine Columbia, MO 65212 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Many patients take over-the-counter medications to held their cancers. Some of these remedies may be helpful; others are potentially harmful. Anti-oxidant medications are frequently selected by patients as they are inexpensive and available. We were approached by a high school student, Macy Williams (one of the authors) to do some research in our laboratory when she won a research scholarship (the 2016 Emperor Science Award) from Stand Up to Cancer. She worked with us several times per week doing experiments during her senior year of high school. When she graduated, we continued the work that she started. We studied effects of Vitamin D3, Melatonin, and alpha-Lipoic Acid on glioblastoma cells, a highly malignant brain tumor. We included experiments of these agents alone and in combination with Temozolomide, a chemotherapy agent used as standard of care in glioblastoma. The work was done in cultured cells, measuring growth and survival of cells. We used concentrations that could be achieved by oral intake of the drugs. We found that antioxidant medications, particularly alpha Lipoic Acid, had synergistic effects with Temozolomide – that is Temozolomide impair glioblastoma cell growth and survival better when combined with an antioxidant. The mechanism of action may be through reactive oxygen species.  (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Omega-3 Fatty Acids / 15.09.2018 Interview with: “omega 3” by Khaldaa Photographer is licensed under CC BY 2.0Yutaka MATSUOKA, MD, PhD Division Chief of Health Care Research, Behavioral Sciences and Survivorship Research Group, Center for Public Health Sciences, National Cancer Center Japan What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Anxiety is the most commonly experienced psychiatric symptom. We have now two major treatment options that include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and pharmacotherapy.  However, CBT is time-consuming, costly, and limited in availability. And there is concern over potential side effects in pharmacotherapy. Evidence-based and safer treatment options are required. Omega-3 fatty acids have potential preventive and therapeutic effects on depression and anxiety. Clinical and preclinical studies support the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids as a treatment for anxiety disorders. Despite the largely positive findings of these trials, the clinical application of the findings is unfortunately limited by their small sample size. Improvement in anxiety symptoms were associated with omega-3 fatty acids treatment compared with controls. The anxiolytic effects of omega-3 fatty acids were also stronger in patients with clinical conditions than in subclinical populations.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, Supplements / 09.09.2018 Interview with: Pieter Cohen, M.D. Associate Professor of Medicine Cambridge Health Alliance Assistant Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School What is the background for this study? Response: Dietary supplements lead to an estimated 23,000 emergency department visits each year in the United States (US), and weight loss and sports supplements contribute to a disproportionately large number of these emergency department visits. It is not known which ingredients in weight loss and sports supplements pose the greatest risk to consumers, but there are stimulants found in botanical remedies that might pose risks. In the current study, we investigated the presence and quantity of higenamine a stimulant found in botanicals and available in sports and weight loss supplements sold in the US. (more…)
Author Interviews, Colon Cancer, Supplements / 13.04.2018 Interview with: Nathalie Scheers PhD Asst. Professor Chalmers University of Technology Dept of Biology and Biological Engineering Food and Nutrition Science Göteborg, Sweden What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Many different forms of iron supplements are used to treat iron deficiency symptoms or as phosphate binders in patients with renal disease. two of these iron supplements, the chelates ferric citrate and ferric EDTA have been observed to drive colon cancer in mice. In the newly published study in Oncotarget, we are reporting our work on how these iron compounds differ compared to the simple salt ferrous sulphate, which is another common iron supplement. The main finding of this study was that ferric citrate and ferric EDTA promoted the cancer biomarker amphiregulin which in turn activated the MAP kinase ERK in gut epithelial cancer cells. There were no such effects in ferrous sulphate-treated cells.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Supplements / 06.01.2018 Interview with: “Pills Vitamins Macro April 22, 2012 4” by Steven Depolo is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr Mayur Ranchordas, SFHEA Senior Lecturer in Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism Sport Nutrition Consultant Chair of the Sport and Exercise Research Ethics Group Sheffield Hallam University Academy of Sport and Physical Activity Faculty of Health and Wellbeing Sheffield What is the background for this study?  Response: People engaging in intense exercise often take antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin C and/or E or antioxidant-enriched foods, before and after exercise in the anticipation that these will help reduce muscle soreness. In a new review published in the Cochrane Library we looked at the evidence from 50 studies. These all compared high-dose antioxidant supplementation with a placebo and their participants all engaged in strenuous exercise that was sufficient to cause muscle soreness. Of the 1089 participants included in the review, nearly nine out of ten of these were male and most participants were recreationally active or moderately trained. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Kidney Disease, Microbiome, Supplements / 19.10.2017 Interview with: Ron Walborn Jr. Prebiotin CEO What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The product Prebiotin™ Prebiotic Fiber was brought to market in 2007 by Dr. Frank Jackson, a gastroenterologist out of Harrisburg, PA. He found through 40 years of experience with his patients that a variety of digestive issues benefitted from daily supplementation with a soluble prebiotic fiber, specifically, oligofructose-enriched inulin (OEI) derived from chicory root. In the late summer of 2012, Prebiotin caught the attention of Dr. Dominic Raj at the Internal Medicine Department of George Washington University. Dr. Raj’s laboratory showed that patients with kidney disease may have a higher level of release of endotoxins like p-Cresol sulfate and indole from the bacteria in the gut, which can move into the bloodstream and promote inflammation. This early work was the basis of a successful grant application. Researchers were interested in investigating the therapeutic potential of altering the composition and/or function of the gut microbiome in this patient population, based on the understanding that by building up the levels of healthy bacteria in the gut, undesirable bacteria is eventually crowded out, thereby reducing the release of harmful endotoxins into the system. (more…)
Aging, Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, JAMA, Supplements / 21.03.2017 Interview with: Richard J. Kryscio, Ph.D. Statistics and Chair, Biostatistics and Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Sanders-Brown Center on Aging University of Kentucky What is the background for this study? Response: At the time the trial was initiated (2002), there was ample evidence that oxidative stress is an important mechanism in brain aging. Research showed that protein oxidation is linked to the brain’s response to the abnormal proteins seen in Alzheimer disease (amyloid beta plaques in particular) leading to inflammation, DNA repair problems, reduced energy production, and other cellular changes that are identified mechanisms in the Alzheimer brain. Both vitamin E and selenium are antioxidants. Antioxidants, either through food or supplements, are believed to reduce oxidative stress throughout the body. In the brain, they may reduce the formation of amyloid beta plaques, reduce brain inflammation, and improve other brain processes. Studies in humans support these hypotheses. The Rotterdam study in the Netherlands, as an example, showed that initial blood levels of vitamin E could predict dementia risk. Those people with higher vitamin E levels were 25% less likely to develop dementia. Also, selenium deficiency results in cognitive difficulties and several population-based studies have shown an association between selenium level and cognitive decline (lower selenium levels are linked to thinking changes in the elderly). (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Supplements / 11.10.2016 Interview with: Elizabeth D. Kantor, PhD MPH Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center NY, NY What is the background for this study? Response: Prior studies show that use of supplements increased between the 1980s and mid-2000s, and despite much research conducted on the health effects of supplements, we know little about recent trends in use. Given this gap, we decided to create an up-to-date, comprehensive resource on the prevalence and trends of supplement use among US adults using nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Data were collected over seven continuous cycles (from 1999-2000 to 2011-2012). (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Geriatrics, Pharmacology / 13.07.2016 Interview with: Leigh Purvis, MPA Director of Health Services Research AARP Public Policy Institute Editors’ note: In conjunction with the AARP’s new investigative piece, 'Supplement Pills That Promise Too Much', Leigh Purvis, Director of the AARP Health Services Research program discussed the issue of the proliferation of supplements, often with labels that make extraordinary health benefit claims. How many Americans use nutritional supplements? How big is the business of supplements? Response: Supplements are very popular in the United States. This is particularly true for older adults. A recent study found that the proportion of older adults using supplements increased from 52 percent in 2005 to 64 percent in 2011, and the share using multiple supplements grew by nearly 50 percent. According to the National Institutes of Health, American spent an estimated $36.7 billion on dietary supplements in 2014. (more…)
Aging, Alzheimer's - Dementia, Antioxidants, Author Interviews, Nutrition, Supplements / 04.06.2016 Interview with: Jennifer Lemon, PhD Research Associate Medical Radiation Sciences McMaster University What is the background for this study? Dr. Lemon: Research with the supplement began in 2000, as part of my doctoral degree; we developed the supplement to try to offset the severe cognitive deterioration and accelerated aging in a mouse model we were working with in the lab. Based on aging research, five mechanisms appeared to be key contributors to the process of aging; those include oxidative stress, inflammation, mitochondrial deterioration, membrane dysfunction and impaired glucose metabolism. The criteria we used for including components in the supplement were as follows: each one of the 30 components had scientific evidence to show they acted on one or more of the above mechanisms were able to be taken orally, and were available to humans over-the-counter. Even then the hope was that if the formulation was successful, this would make it more available to the general public. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Nutrition, Supplements / 23.03.2016 Interview with: Judy Jou, MA PhD Candidate PhD Candidate in Health Services Research, Policy, & Administration Division of Health Policy and Management University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is rising among U.S. adults, but CAM is often poorly integrated into patients’ treatment and self-care routines. We analyzed nearly 7,500 responses from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and found that over two-fifths of U.S. adults who used CAM during the past year did not disclose their complementary and alternative medicine use to their primary health care providers, with rates of disclosure varying by the type of CAM used. We also examined reasons for non-disclosure and found that, in contrast to prior studies, lack of provider-initiated conversation about  complementary and alternative medicine was the most commonly cited reason, rather than patients’ concerns about negative reactions from their providers regarding their complementary and alternative medicine use. (more…)
Author Interviews, Calcium, Kidney Disease, Kidney Stones, Supplements, Vitamin D / 20.10.2015 Interview with: Christopher Loftus M.D. candidate Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Most kidney stones are made, at least partially, of calcium composite. In a prospective study of nurses in the post-menopausal age, it was found that diets that contained high amounts of calcium were beneficial in preventing kidney stones in this population. In the gut, calcium can bind to oxalate which prevents it from being absorbed into the body and decreases the concentration of calcium in the urine. However there has been debate as to whether supplemental calcium (calcium pills) has the same beneficial effects as calcium in the diet. Supplemental calcium enters the gut in large quantities all at once so it may enter the blood stream in higher concentrations over smaller amounts of time. By the same token, vitamin D plays a role in the management and balance of calcium in the body and could potentially have an effect on stone formation as well.  It has also been debated whether vitamin D supplementation has major effect on patients who are known to be stone formers.  So we reviewed CT scans of patients and 24 hour urine collections (both male and female of adult age) who were known to have kidney stones and measured the growth of stones over a period of time. Our main findings were that supplementary calcium increased the rate of stone formation in these patients. We also found that vitamin D had a protective effect and patients taking only vitamin D had a slower rate of stone progression. (more…)
Author Interviews, Rheumatology, Supplements / 29.09.2015

Prof. Andrew B Lemmey School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences Bangor University Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales, Interview with: Prof. Andrew B Lemmey School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences Bangor University Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales, UK Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Prof. Lemmey: Substantial loss of lean mass (LM; mostly skeletal muscle) is common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), as we and others have shown that even amongst patients with well-controlled disease approximately 67% are significantly muscle wasted. This loss of muscle, termed “rheumatoid cachexia”, is a major contributor to the decreased strength and impaired physical function which continues to characterise RA. Unfortunately, current drug treatments for RA, including use of biologics and the ‘treat-to-target (T2T)’ strategy, do not reverse this LM loss, nor fully restore physical function (Lemmey et al., “Tight control of disease activity fails to improve body composition or physical function in rheumatoid arthritis patients”. Submitted to Rheumatology (Oxford), currently under review). Whilst high-intensity exercise (specifically, progressive resistance training (PRT)) has been shown to be highly effective in restoring both  lean mass and function in  rheumatoid arthritis patients (Lemmey et al., Arthritis Care & Research 2009;61(12):1726-34), the lack of uptake and adherence to sufficiently intense training (Lemmey et al., Arthritis Care & Research 2012;64(1):71-5) means this form of therapy is not widely adopted. Anabolic nutritional supplementation offers a potential adjunct treatment intervention for increasing LM, and thereby improving physical function, that could be widely accepted. Indeed, our group (Marcora et al., Clinical Nutrition 2005;24(3):442-54) has previously demonstrated that 12 weeks of daily oral protein supplementation improved lean mass and some measures of strength and function in  rheumatoid arthritis patients. Creatine (Cr) is a popular dietary supplement generally shown to have greater benefits on both lean mass and physical function than generic protein supplementation. One study (Willer et al., Rheumatology 2000;39(3):293-8) has investigated the efficacy of Cr supplementation in rheumatoid arthritis patients. In this short uncontrolled trial, twelve patients underwent 3 weeks of supplementation, and although strength increased, no changes in function were found, and body composition changes were not investigated. Using a double-blind, placebo controlled design, the current study aimed to investigate the effects of 12 weeks of oral Cr supplementation on body composition (by DXA; dual energy X-ray absorptiometry), strength (knee-extensor and handgrip) and objectively-assessed physical function (chair and walk tests) in patients with RA. Thirty-five patients (Cr=15, Pl=20) completed the study.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Hepatitis - Liver Disease, Menopause, Nutrition, Weight Research / 01.03.2015

Colette Nicole Miller FDN Department of Foods and Nutrition Edgar L. Rhodes Center for Animal and Dairy Science University of Georgia, Athens, Interview with: Colette Nicole Miller FDN Department of Foods and Nutrition Edgar L. Rhodes Center for Animal and Dairy Science University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Our laboratory has been interested for quite some time in the relationship that natural, plant-derived compounds have on various tissues in the body. Both bone and adipocytes are derived from the same progenitor cell, mesenchymal stem cells. Thus, if a drug or compound affects one type of cell, it may affect both. When women transition through menopause, and see a reduction in their female sex hormones like estrogen, they can see adverse changes in both how much fat they store and their bone density. Thus our lab is interested in compounds that can be used to prevent the bone loss and visceral adipogenesis that menopausal women often experience. Previous work both in vivo and in vitro has shown that phytochemicals have synergistic effects and thus can ultimately work together to reduce the dosages needed to promote overall health. Through this work we have identified a combination of genistein, resveratrol, quercetin and Vitamin D that improve bone density in addition to promoting apoptosis of adipocytes. However, the health of the liver had never been addressed with our phytochemical blend. We know that supplements are sometimes toxic to the liver for many different reasons. Thus, it was very important for us to address the toxicity and potential risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease with our phytochemical blend in a menopausal rat model. (more…)
Author Interviews, Supplements, Wake Forest / 02.07.2014 Interview with: Scott A. Davis, MA Research Administrative Coordinator Department of Dermatology Wake Forest School of Medicine MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Answer: St. John’s wort (SJW), a common complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment for depression, is frequently used together with drugs that may interact dangerously with it. In data from the 1993-2010 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, a nationally representative survey of physician visits from the National Center for Health Statistics, SJW was prescribed together with drugs such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), benzodiazepines, warfarin, statins, digoxin, verapamil, and oral contraceptives. Using SJW together with other antidepressants may cause serotonin syndrome, a potentially fatal condition. (more…)
Author Interviews, FASEB, Nutrition, OBGYNE / 06.06.2014

Antonio E. Frias, MD Associate Professor | Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine Oregon Health & Science University Director, Diabetes and Pregnancy Program Assistant Scientist | Oregon National Primate Research Center Portland, Oregon Interview with: Antonio E. Frias, MD Associate Professor | Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine Oregon Health & Science University Director, Diabetes and Pregnancy Program Assistant Scientist | Oregon National Primate Research Center Portland, Oregon 97239 MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Frias: Resveratrol supplementation in pregnant nonhuman primates fed a Western-style diet improved maternal metabolism, restored placental blood flow, reduced placental inflammation and improved lipid deposition in the fetal liver.  However, there was an unexpected disruption of fetal pancreatic development that is very concerning. (more…)