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Statins and Human Aging- Big Pharma Jumps on Board?

A recent study out of Italy links statin drugs to increased telomerase activity and slower shortening of telomeres.

If you read my blogs you know this is not the first time such an association has been found.  Back in March of this year I reviewed another article predicting we would see more of this. And now we have!

The gist of this study is that statins appear to have a mild effect on white blood cell telomerase activity. They do not lengthen telomeres but they could be put into the broad category of “things that slow down telomere loss”.

The authors make a rather prophetic remark in that they suggest that some of the increased survival that may be seen with statin therapy may be due to improved stabilization of the telomere. They do not go so far as to say that ALL of it may be due to this. They also still mention the cholesterol lowering effect of statins as a survival mechanism.

Let’s look at that a bit more.  Statin drug therapy started when Merck took the “active” molecule from red yeast rice and patented as Mevacor. This first statin drug was much like TA-65 in that it was all natural- a small molecule purified and concentrated that came from a Chinese plant!

Soon after “semi-synthetic” statins arrived and Rosuvastatin or Crestor tm represents the new generation of totally synthetic computer generated molecules. In the process an industry and test was created to support Big Pharma to the tune of $20 billion a year.

In spite of all of this the drug companies are still having to do studies that “justify the use of statins”. As a matter of fact the JUPITER study was done a few years back providing highly funded and perfectly credentialed evidence ( American Journal of Cardiology and researchers from Mass General aka the New England Journal of Medicine folks) that basically everyone on the planet should get a statin drug.

Of course the facts are not all that clear cut. Statins are costly, have a very high cost per prevention of second heart attack let alone first, work mostly in high risk men, don’t work well in women, have side effects profiles that include memory loss, impotence, diabetes, and have failed to provide the much vaunted anti-cancer and anti-Alzheimer’s benefits Big Pharma was hoping for.

Simply put if we applied the same standards to statin use as we did to mammograms, pap smears and PSA for prostate cancer we would not be using statins because they are too costly. And yet they are still much beloved by allopathic doctors like me and almost universally recommended. They even feature heavily on the Cardiology section of the Internal Medicine Boards!

I think you get the picture. Statins are too big and too profitable to be gone anytime soon. But this whole association between statins and telomeres does have a very positive side. Sort of.

If Big Pharma gets involved in the anti-aging market things will move much faster. Then again they will own it which is not necessarily a good thing for all of us. Then again it may not be preventable.

My friend what you are really watching hear is a “product cycle” in development. The association between a drug company drug and the anti-aging market will blossom when enough people like me have done enough work and educated enough people to support the desire in Big Pharma to capitalize on the market need and desire that has been created. Then when the social moral and economic risks are the lowest, and someone else has incurred the cost and risk of developing the answer, Big Pharma will swoop in, use their gigantic advertising resources to saturate the market, buy off the actual pioneers in the industry ( don’t worry they won’t pick me! I am far too controversial!) and be the hero of all humanity thus cementing our dependency on them forever more. Or so they hope.

The truly good thing is that telomeres and the association of telomeres with disease and disease prevention and treatment will become a real thing with a real agenda instead of just a fascinating research tool like it is now. Finally the field will get some of its due even if there is a terrible price to pay.

So here is some food for thought. If you are on TA-65 or the Telomere Edge Pack you are actually in the fringe-pioneer group that is forging the new future for humanity RIGHT NOW.

While we cannot link TA-65 to disease prevention just yet it is a real possibility in the not too distant future. Remember it is the only compound on the market that actually has real human data.

This brings up another point. TA Sciences had the foresight to use the Life Length assay before it was even commercially available. Unlike the Italian study just released which used the inaccurate Q-PCR assay to measure people’s telomeres (which makes the data suspect in the first place!) their data is real, repeatable and in the process of being expanded as we speak.

The Life Length test is the ONLY test that can give you an accurate biologic age.

And I have to be honest. For a lot of people only drugs will do. This is true of most doctors who do not understand how severely and tactically they have been marketed to become the mouth pieces of the pharmaceutical industry.

But for guys like me- I feel a lot safer and better about using an all natural product that I have proven in repeated personal testing using the Life Length Assay has reversed my biologic age by 7 years.

So the only question is: are you a pioneer?!

 

Doc

 

 

PS as an aside my telomere research buddies tell me that statins may actually work better in people who have shorter telomeres because they may have a more demonstrable effect on their telomeres. This means that Big Pharma could and should do some stratification work on their respective statin drugs to see who will benefit most. This will cost money and reduce the risk of statins so don’t look for it any time soon!

 

 

References:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002914905020321

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002914905020321

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Chasing the wrong rabbit – why cholesterol levels are just a distraction

CholesterolThere is a 30 billion dollar industry supporting the use of statins for both primary prevention and secondary prevention (after the fact) of heart attacks.  Similarly, hundreds of millions in studies have been spent to “justify the use of statins”.  The JUPITER study is the most recent.  I have already commented on my expectation that Big Pharma will try to position statins as “anti-aging” drugs as soon as enough people are saying the words “anti-aging” to make it OK for conservative medical doctors to look at those words without screaming “fraud and quack”.  To jog your memory, recall my comments on the “Is it Low T” scenario. I still laugh at all the abuse I took in the first 8 years of this century until Big Pharma came out with an acceptable drug for “Low T”.

OK, back to cholesterol and the big 30 billion dollar myth.

Statin drugs lower LDL and this is where, purported anti-aging effects notwithstanding, the major focus of the scientific literature has been.

What an absolute waste!

If you look at the Eskimo population that eats a traditional diet, and the traditional Japanese diet as well, you find loads of people who have high cholesterol.  You will also find more than you’d expect with high blood pressure and, especially in the Eskimos, significant obesity.  But you find almost no heart disease.

No, I am not tricking you by misrepresenting high HDL (good cholesterol) as part of this number. Many of these people do have higher than average good cholesterol but they also have LDL bad cholesterols that would prompt any self-respecting family doc, internist or cardiologist to whip out the ubiquitous prescription pad and start writing for statins and more statins.

OK, so it must be genetics or epigenetics, right? Somewhere, buried in the Eskimo and Japanese genome, there is a magic allele (a variant of the typical gene) that allows these people to stave off heart attacks in spite of too much bad cholesterol, right!?

Wrong!

The whole thing is very simply the effect of their diet because when you take these populations and stick them on our food pyramid or “traditional Western Diet” they develop heart disease and all the other things we get, at exactly the same rates, if not more.

Bottom line: the risk of heart disease in any population is directly related to the Omega6/3 levels.  The higher the tissue levels of Omega 3 (and yes, the blood levels as well), the lower the risk of heart disease.

I tell people to shoot for 1 to 1 Omega 6 to 3, but most of these populations are closer to .85. In other words, they are Omega 3 dominant.  And no, they don’t bleed to death (unless you shoot them), they don’t smell like fish, and the LDL particles that are supposedly causing harm in this situation either go away after a few months on a highly dominant Omega 3 diet or, as in the case of the above populations, they don’t matter.

LDL may wander into an inflammatory lesion and get oxidized but the toxic effects are caused by high Omega 6 levels unbalanced (e.g. in the presence of low Omega 3 levels) in the first place.

The real culprit is free fatty acid release from the liver, which must take place in order for cholesterol to be released as well. Free fatty acid release is caused when the liver gets too many calories in a single bolus to handle them, so it sends them out into the blood where they, along with the Omega 6’s, do the damage.

The cure for free fatty acid release is:  Don’t eat so damn much at one sitting!

So heart disease could be reduced by several hundred thousand people a year by combining the following:

1)         Reduced Omega 6 intake

2)         Increased Omega 3 intake

3)         Smaller meals and, if needed, small snacks in between

You can do most of this with diet alone but the majority of people, myself included, like to eat with other people socially and are more “omnivorous” than we might need to be. Secondly, I don’t really like fish all that much and I do not want all the mercury and other toxins that are in many different fish species, even though the FDA says a little mercury won’t hurt.

There are absolutely no long term studies on “a little mercury consumption”.  My way of thinking is a little over a long period of time can be very deadly, especially since mercurial dementia is not a typical part of the differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.  Also I do not want to count on today’s breed of ADD doctors to remember to check for mercury toxicity in a demented 80-year-old?! NO thanks! I will just avoid mercury.

I can’t count on them to chase the right rabbit!

This is why I have my fish oil purified to parts per trillion.

Doc