Research: WALSTON and co-authors,

Listed in Issue 133


WALSTON and co-authors, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA, have researched antioxidant vitamins, inflammation, and deaths in older women.


The inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 has been linked to poor health outcomes in older adults. Oxidative stress triggers the production of interleukin-6, and antioxidant micronutrients play a critical role in decreasing this inflammatory response. The aim of this study was to identify the relationship between levels of antioxidant nutrients in blood, interleukin-6, and mortality in older women.


Levels of antioxidants (alpha- and beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein/zeaxanthin, alpha-cryptoxanthin, total carotenoids, retinol, alpha-tocopherol, zinc, and selenium) were measured at baseline in 619 women. Interleukin-6 was measured at baseline and at follow-up 1 and 2 years later, and all deaths were recorded over a 5-year period.


Participants with the highest serum levels of alpha-carotene, total carotenoids, and selenium were significantly less likely to be in the highest tertile of serum interleukin-6 at baseline (p < 0.0001). Those with the lowest levels of alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein/zeaxanthin, and total carotenoids were significantly more likely to have increasing interleukin-6 levels over a period of 2 years. Those with the lowest selenium levels had a significantly higher risk of total mortality over a period of 5 years (hazard ratio = 1.54).


These findings suggest that specific antioxidant nutrients may play an important role in suppressing interleukin-6 levels in older women.


Walston J, Xue Q, Semba RD, Ferrucci L, Cappola AR, Ricks M, Guralnik J, Fried LP. Serum antioxidants, inflammation, and total mortality in older women. American Journal of Epidemiology 163 (1): 18-26, Jan 1, 2006.


This research indicates that high serum levels of antioxidant vitamins and minerals, including carotenoids and selenium, may decrease mortality in older women.

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