SVSR: Supplement-Drug Interactions, Exercise & Your Pysche, Running vs. O-Lifting vs. Heart Health, N3-to-N6 Ratios, CYP Enzymes, Cannabinoids & Telomeres

The SuppVersity Science Round-Up every Thursday live on Carl Lanore's Super Human Radio -- tune in live at 1PM (EST=  6PM GMT)!
I hope that most of you have already had a chance to listen to yesterday's installment of the SuppVersity Science Round Up on Super Human Radio. In case you didn't, or have been waiting for me to post the link to the podcast (just a reminder: you can always download the latest show, from the navigation bar on the right, where it says: "Physical Culture for your Ears"), I'd suggest you go and download the podcast either now, or after going through today's SuppVersity Science Round Up Seconds.

The "Seconds" are as the name implies no "leftovers", but actually yet another selection from the selection of god knows how many interesting newsbits I usually pile up for the short 1h show, Carl and I are doing every Thursday. I would therefore encourage everyone to do both, listen to the podcast and read the "Seconds" one day later. After all, the things Carl and I discuss on the air won't reappear here, they are "SHR exclusives", so to say ;-)

Apropos, in yesterday's show, the topics we did cover were
  • premature ejaculation, and how only two hormones seem to make a difference,  
  • peptides as prostate cancer vaccine, and how Harvard scientists build them from scratch,
  • supps vs. medications, and how fatal commonly overlooked interactions can be, and
  • copper, and why it may well matter than raw milk has 2-3x more than pasteurized milk
and before we go on with the actual "seconds", I must acquit myself of a promise -- the promise to provide you with more information on #3 on the above list.

Supplemental data: Supplement vs. drug interactions

Figure 1: Important supplement drug interactions based on Tsai (2012)
Those of you who have already listened to the podcast will probably be waiting eagerly for the supplemental material with more information about the potential pitfalls with supplement-drug interactions, Carl and I have been talking about on yesterday's show. With some digging, typing, searching, excerpting and formatting on my part, I have actually come up with a quite comprehensive and for people who are not familiar with all the funky drug names, probably even more understandable version (see figure 1) of the tabular overview H.H. Tsai and colleagues from the China Medical University Hospital and the College of Pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago have included in their latest review of the literature (Tsai. 2012).

What I left out are the two pages (!) part on St. John's wort. With 147 drug (!) interaction ranging from "A" as in "amiodarone" to "W" as in "warfarin" and covering almost every drug type from anti-depressants, protease inhibotors, calcium channel blockers, PDE-5 inhibitors (viagra & co), SERMs, proton pump inhibitors, etc.. In view of the fact that these are only the known interactions, it would be easier to list those drugs with which St John's does not conflict, anyway. So, unless you have a study at hand which conclusively shows that St. John's is no problem, I would rather err on the side of caution, than end up in the ER.

Top 5 of the most frequent interactions observed with medication that act on (ranked by frequency, figure in brackets indicates percentage of all drugs in the study; based on Lin. 2012):
  1. nervous system (19.6%)
  2. cardiovascular system (17.7%)
  3. antiinfectives for systemic use (14.7%)
  4. alimentary tract and and immunomodulating agents (12.2%)
  5. musko-skeletal system (6.4%)
As far as the supplement list in figure 1 goes, the most frequent potential side effect due to supplement-drug interactions affected drugs / supplements that play a role in blood coagulation. Danshen, evening primrose, gingko, glucosamine, white willow bark, garlic, vitamin E, fish oil to name only the most common ones, they all can increase the risk of bleeding not only, but specifically in patients who are taking warfarin (aspirin, ibuprofen, heparin and others were on the list, as well).

"What’s wrong with telling a patient, 'If you don’t hear from us with your lab results a few days, give us a call'? The answer is plenty, if that patient is receiving warfarin therapy. Because warfarin has a narrow therapeutic range and complex pharmacology, insufficient monitoring or errors in dosing can lead to severe and possibly life-threatening bleeding and clotting in patients receiving it." (Bush. 2002)
In view of the "top 5" above, this certainly sounds counter-intuitive, but we are dealing with a practical research bias here. As I mentioned on the air, there is simply an overabundance of research on potential interaction with warfarin, because finding the right dosage and adapting it appropriately is already hard even when there are no confounding variables, so that a sudden supplement-drug interaction and subsequent increase in the risk of bleeding can potentially be fatal (see the quote in the red box to the right)!

Regardless of what medication you may be on, rules that apply for a healthy individual that does not take any medication chronically (not even 'harmless' NSAIDs), don't apply to you! So please for one, follow the recommendation you find on each and every supplement to "talk to your medical practitioner" before you add another 'harmless' supplement on top of the 'harmless' over-the-counter or prescription drugs you are taking.

The Seconds: Interesting news that have been missing from yesterday's show

After this pretty lengthy addendum, let's get to three other items I had actually planned to have on the show, two of them are exercise, while the third one is a health and supplementation... and, when I come to think about it, obviously also diet related news-item:
  • Exercise makes you happy and puts an end to the greed for money! That's not exactly the result of a recently conducted study from the Charité in Berlin (Bothe. 2012), but it is more or less what follows from the differential response Bothe et al. observed in their untrained and highly trained subjects to monetary stimuli after they had completed a standardized running exercise (30 min at 60-70 % VO2max, T) or placebo (P).
    Who would have thought that: Exercise reduces the anticipatory response to monitary incentive delay (MIT) test (Bothe. 2012)
    "Acute exercise was found to influence gain anticipation. In the P compared to the T group a more pronounced anticipation-related BOLD response was found in mesolimbic and mesocortical dopamine-innervated regions like the VS, hippocampus (Hipp) and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC). [...] Additionally, several brain structures potentially associated with motor preparation (primary and supplementary motor areas) as well as structures belonging to the ventral (lingual gyrus) and dorsal (cuneus, precuneus) visual pathway showed stronger BOLD responses to gain anticipation in the P group compared with the T group." (Bothe. 2012)
    Moreover, according to the paper which is going to be published in one of the upcoming issues of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, all 43 healthy men between the age of  20 - 32 years who participated in the study showed similar increases in mood (effect size F=11.70).

    With both, the beneficial outcome of the positive and negative affect schedule and the decrease in anticipatory signalling (= the greedy "I am about to win!") in the psychological testing session (the so-called monetary incentive delay) in an fMRI brain scanner, being identical it becomes evident that you don't have to be an athlete to monetize (all puns intended ;-) on the beneficial psychological effects of exercise.
  • Figure 1: Changes in total lean mass, aerobic fitness, strength (mind the scaling with x10!), right ventricular mass and end-diastolic volume in subjects in the endurance (runners) and strength training arm (O-lifting) of the 24-week study (based on Spence. 2012)
    Changes to the heart (right ventricular) due to exercise are mild, and if anything more pronounced in response to endurance than resistance training! " Left ventricular (LV) adaptation to exercise training has been the focus of 'athlete's heart' research to-date, information regarding right ventricular (RV) adaptation is sparse, due to its complex structure and imaging technique limitations." (Spence. 2012) So scarce, in fact, that this recent study that has been conducted by researchers form the The University of Western Australia, the University of Leeds, a and the Liverpool John Moore's University is the first to take a closer look at the impact endurance or resistance training have on the morphology of the RV.

    For their randomized trial, the researchers recruited twenty-three young untrained men.. The men were assigned to either
    • endurance training (E; n = 10)  - consisting of a progressively overloaded program of walking/jogging/running, divided into three training phases over the 24-week period, or
    • resistance training (R; n = 13) - with a focus on periodised R program was Olympic weightlifting with incorporated assistance exercises (e.g. deadlift, squat, bench press, overhead press) to develop overall strength and technique
    for a total timespan of 6 months, in the course of which body composition, aerobic fitness, muscular strength, RV morphology (MRI) and function (speckle tracking echocardiography) were continously monitored.

    The results Spence et al. are going to publish in one of the future issues of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise refute even two pieces of common "knowledge". Firstly, a still totally benign, right ventricular hypertrophy was exclusively observed in the endurance training group, yet not in the heavy lifters who were doing their squats, deadlifts and military presses (by 2.7g following E and by 1.4 g  following R training). Secondly, both strength and size gains were no prerogative of the lifting weight group. Contrary to the increase in total lean mass (+1.3 kg vs. +2.1 kg), the strength increase of +53.8 kg vs. +35.3 kg was yet much significantly more pronounced in the weight lifters.

    On the other hand only the endurance training group saw significant statistically improvements in their aerobic fitness level. This correspondence of endurance exercise, mild ventricular hypertrophy and increased fitness levels is unquestionably telling in terms of "how bad" a physiologically enlarged heart where the ratio of left-to-right ventricular  mass remains intact (which was the case in the study at hand), don't you think so?
  • Omega-3s, omega-6s, telomere length, CYP enzymes, endogenous cannabinoid and the liver you need all of them to see the complete picture While the epidemiologists are still debating who will and who won't benefit from omega-3 supplementation, those who still care about how our bodies works and why their colleagues over at the epidemiology department are still debating, have made quite some progress as far as the underlying health benefits of rectifying the omega-3 to omega-6 balance are concerned.

    Why are endocannabinoids problematic? One of the answers is: "They will make you fat!" Basically we have known that forever, but a recent study which tracked the conversion of dietary linolic acid (n-6) to it's endocannabinoid metabolits, 2-AG and anandamide has recently confirmed not just that, but also that the provision of no more than 1% of the total energy of the diet in form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) + docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can already make a huge difference (Alvhem. 2012). With the addition of the long-chain omega-3s, the rodents in the study had a 8:1 ratio of linolic acid (LA) to long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. Still much higher than what you will hear is necessary, but sufficient to reverse the overabundance of arachidonic acid, in the phospholipids of liver and erythroctes, and the +200% increase in endocannabinoid levels that had been brought about, when the researchers had increased the linolic acid content of the diet from 1% to 8% of the total energy intake. In view of the fact that the same goes for the increased food intake, feed efficiency, and adiposity the mice had developed on the 60% fat (total) diet with a high linolic acid content, this study - despite being done on rodents - clearly shows that it does not necessarily have to be a 1:1 ratio to grasp major health benefits.

    If you get down from  30:1 to 8:1 you've come a tremendous way, already; and guess what: The easiest way to achieve that is to just cut out all seed and vegetable oils as well as processed foods that contain them.
    In a recent review on the differential effects of fatty acids on human metabolism in the Italian journal Medical and surgical pediatrics G. Caramia emphasizes the role of omega-6 derived endocannabinoids:
    "[E]ndocannabinoids like anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol [that arise from the enzymatic conversion of linolic acid by enzymes from the cytochrome P450 family at the liver are] capable of mimicking the pharmacological actions of the active principle of Cannabis sativa preparations such as hashish and marijuana (-)-Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol. They act as true 'endogenous cannabinoids' by binding and functionally activating one or both [of the] cannabinoid receptor present on nervous and peripheral cell membranes." (Caramia. 2012; my emphases)
    Unfortunately, the same enzymes which are responsible for the generation of those endocannabinoids, are also responsible for the conversion of n-3 PUFAs into more potent metabolites of EPA and DHA, which will actually do most of the the vascular- and cardioprotective magic that is commonly ascribed to "fish oil".

    And how does all that relate to telomeres?

    These competitive effects in turn segue directly into the observations of a double-blind 4-month trial that involved 106 healthy sedentary overweight middle-aged and older adults. The participants supplemented their diets with capsules containing either (1) 2.5 g/day n-3 PUFAs, (2) 1.25 g/day n-3 PUFAs, or (3) a placebo that mirrored the proportions of fatty acids in the typical American diet.

    Now, it's not news that this led to decreases in inflammatory markers. I am not going to bore you with those, don't worry!

    What is news, and in my eyes very important, is that neither the provision nor the dosage of additional long-chain omega-3s had an effect on telomere length, the only variable that mattered was were the changes in the n-6:n-3 PUFA plasma ratios, which "helped clarify the intervention’s impact: telomere length increased with decreasing n-6:n-3 ratios (p= 0.02)" (Kiecolt-Glaser. 2012).
That's it as far as today's seconds go... you want more? Man, I could certainly give you more, but you know that gluttony was once considered a sin, right? Tomorrow is another day, and if you can't wait, just head over to the SuppVersity Facebook wall, which is always bursting from the seems with the latest tidbits from the realms of health, exercise and nutrition sciences.  

  • Alvheim AR, Malde MK, Osei-Hyiaman D, Hong Lin Y, Pawlosky RJ, Madsen L, Kristiansen K, Frøyland L, Hibbeln JR. Dietary Linoleic Acid Elevates Endogenous 2-AG and Anandamide and Induces Obesity. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012 Oct;20(10):1984-94.
  • Bothe N, Zschucke E, Dimeo F, Heinz A, Wüstenberg T, Ströhle A. Acute Exercise Influences Reward Processing in Highly Trained and Untrained Men. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Oct 10.
  • Bush J. Preventing errors in your practice. Reducing risks for patients receiving warfarin. Fam Pract Manag. 2002 Jul-Aug;9(7):35-38.
  • Caramia G. [Essential fatty acids and lipid mediators. Endocannabinoids]. Pediatr Med Chir. 2012 Mar-Apr;34(2):65-72.
  • Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Epel ES, Belury MA, Andridge R, Lin J, Glaser R, Malarkey WB, Hwang BS, Blackburn E. Omega-3 fatty acids, oxidative stress, and leukocyte telomere length: A randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2012 Sep 23. pii: S0889-1591(12)00431-X.
  • Spence AL, Carter HH, Murray CP, Oxborough D, Naylor LH, George KP, Green DJ. MRI-derived Right Ventricular Adaptations to Endurance versus Resistance Training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Oct 15.
  • Tsai HH, Lin HW, Simon Pickard A, Tsai HY, Mahady GB. Evaluation of documented drug interactions and contraindications associated with herbs and dietary supplements: a systematic literature review. Int J Clin Pract. 2012 Nov;66(11):1056-1078.
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