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Are You Neurotic? Be Careful!

Ok you’ve seen me beat up on the QPCR as a tool for accurate assessment of telomere length in the recent Ornish study. To my mind that was the absolute worst use of that technology and it invalidates much of what the authors concluded primarily because the study was so small and did not correlate well with telomerase activity. If you haven’t read that blog it’s here .

But another recent study that used this technology was exactly the kind where QPCR might actually be useful… sort of. You’ll see why I am qualifying it.

Keep in mind as you read this that the vagaries of these studies are not even in the consciousness of the people writing about them. They just look at the study and parrot back the conclusions as if they were fact. Apparently most people want exactly that with very little consideration for “the truth” because if the study supports their agenda, they are not going to want to hear anything that raises questions. Again if you read my blog on the Ornish study you will see that is not my way either.

Now onto this new study out of Holland. The gist of it is: if you are significantly neurotic you are shortening your telomeres and probably your lifespan and your health span more rapidly than you should be and more rapidly than someone who is better emotionally balanced!

This study had all the things the “Ornish” study did not. It had an “n” of over 3300 people. It used the telomere measurement over long periods of time between measurements, 1, 3, and 6 years. The combination of the large number of participants and the long delay between assays especially the 3 and 6 year gaps helps make up for some of the inaccuracies in this kind of test because the numbers give it more ability to predict trends and the time gives more chance for REAL changes in telomere length that are within the detection of the tests ability to actually happen. To the statisticians in the audience you know I just simplified the heck out of that explanation but most of the folks reading this will understand it and would not get the terminology you like to use!

Now would have HTQFISH been a better choice? Absolutely! It would have actually looked at the telomeres and seen the percentage of short telomeres as well as mean telomere length.  And it would have delivered the data in almost exactly the same time frame with more accuracy allowing the authors to have a shorter and potentially cheaper cost to the study while giving more information.

Why didn’t they do that instead? I can only guess but they weren’t looking for individual information only large group and mostly because scientists have not caught on yet to this technology!  You can experience it yourself if you want to at ADL Tests.

Now comes the critique part of the study e.g. what is wrong with it. Mainly that they had to use a questionnaire to access neuroticism. Questionnaires are a necessary evil in things like nutrition, exercise/injury study and psychiatry but they are fraught with potential errors mainly because people don’t always tell the truth when they talk about themselves!

Still if you look at some of the better studies that Epel and Blackburn have done in the past it fits with the findings. Mental stress whether self inflicted or related to “the others” in one’s life shortens our lives and can wreck our health almost as surely as some physical disease.

So what can you do if you are stressed, neurotic or carrying around harmful mental wounds?

Well you can start by forgiving yourself and valuing yourself. Then you can forgive and value others!

In the process you might read our little book The Immortality Edge – but hurry even Amazon is running out of them! You will find there several ways to achieve physical and mental balance that have worked for many people. Some are expensive (TA 65) and some cost nothing.

Only YOU can decide how much you are worth!

 

Doc

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A giant step for mankind that started with a mouse!

In the very beginning of our book The Immortality Edge, in my forward, I quote Neil Armstong:  “One small step for many, one giant step for mankind,” rendering my opinion on the importance of telomerase therapy and telomere science.

That opinion is passing from an opinion to fact.

This past week saw several major releases in the anti-aging field.  I will get into detail about them in a moment, but I want to remind you about something critical that is also beginning to change.  Last year, I had the great fortune of standing in front of interested people at David Wolfe’s Longevity Now Conference and teaching them about Omega3’s, telomeres, epigenetics and other, soon-to-be timely topics.

Every single one of those heretofore unknown areas has been in the news lately.  In addition, Suzanne Somers’ book Bombshell came out last week and spent 21 pages on topics we wrote an entire book on in 2010: telomeres, telomerase and TA-65. This was a huge step, because now a popular author is writing about my field — something that has never really happened before.

OK, the BIG BANG study of the year is Dr Blasco’s latest study and it is gigantic for several reasons.

First, it uses telomerase therapy and markedly extends the life spans of adult mice (24% longer lived) and old, old mice (14% longer lived) with a single (yep, that is one time) injection of telomerase therapy. Next, it uses viral transfection, to insert the telomerase gene, a method that had heretofore, increased the risk of cancer. Now, it can be done with no risk of increasing cancer. I hope these silence the critics of telomerase therapy once and for all. For years, they have been hiding behind the misconception that telomerase “causes cancer”. I suspect many of them knew it does not, all along, but it made a fast, easy and scary argument against using telomerase.

At least now we will be treated to the real reasons why people fight it: “We aren’t supposed to live forever, Doc!” OK, your choice – you don’t get any, how’s that?!

It is important to note that the mice were allowed to accumulate the damage of aging to adult and old age, before they were treated. Then, when they were already “damaged by aging” they were treated and got better!

Next critics will say: “But it did not create immortal mice.”  First off, who would want to! Next, mice do not age by telomere degradation and telomerase lack, alone. If we were to estimate “how much” mouse aging is dependent on telomeres, it would probably be around 50% or less. This suggests that when we develop said therapies for people, it may have more startling results. Sign me up!

Of course, there is little impetus to develop an anti-aging shot, among Big Pharma and the government, but I can guarantee you this. They will be first in line when it is approved!

For now, we are “stuck” with a safe effective alternative, TA-65. And yes, there will be more and more studies on this as well, but just in case you missed it, Dr Blasco was able to demonstrate significant life span lengthening (and yes, health span as well) with no increase in cancer with her mice on TA-65, as well.

For the past 2 years, since the publication of our book The Immortality Edge, I have had to listen to people criticize what we wrote, as being speculative and unproven. I challenged each critic to come back and write their concerns again, in a year or two, because they would all be answered. No one did, but one guy wrote, “Hey Doc, what do you think?! You think you know something the rest of the world doesn’t?”

In this case, I might!

But, there is so much more to learn and I do love this stuff. Stay tuned and I’ll do my best to translate it into English for you.

Doc

P.S. Of lesser note this week, a very interesting study came out looking to identify “SNPs” Single Nucleotide Substitutions or (P) polymorphisms in identical twins. This was pretty cool, because it might identify some of the reason one twin (or on a broader sense , why someone) is more “disease prone” than the other.  They definitively need to do epigenetic mapping and short telomere testing on the twins as well!

References:

Telomerase gene therapy in adult and old mice delays aging and increases longevity without increasing cancer

Bruno Bernardes de Jesus1, Elsa Vera1, Kerstin Schneeberger1, Agueda M. Tejera1, Eduard Ayuso2,3,

Fatima Bosch2,3, Maria A. Blasco1*

Keywords: AAV9; aging; gene therapy; health span; TERT

DOI 10.1002/emmm.201200245

Received February 22, 2012

Revised March 29, 2012

Accepted March 30, 2012

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TA-65 and telomerase activation goes mainstream via Suzanne Somers

Over a decade ago a very brilliant marketer told me, “Don’t be first; they will forget you!”  He was referring, of course, to a situation where you create something or become involved in something at a very early stage and no one knows what it is and no one knows why they need it.  If you are in that boat, you do a lot of work and someone else usually reaps the rewards of your labors.
If things like fish oil, raspberry ketone, elderberry extract, rhodiola, Cordyceps, Hawthorne berry, curcumin* and of course, now TA-65, ring a bell then you know what I am talking about.  The good news is that you and I got to use them for several years (or at least had that option – you may have chosen not to do as I do!) before they hit the mainstream. I think that makes us younger and healthier than most!
The latest on the list of course is TA-65.
If you have been on my list anytime since 2009, you may already be sick of hearing about TA-65, telomeres and telomerase activation.
But if you haven’t, and sadly that includes the vast majority of the planet, you will not have heard any of these words.  But Suzanne Somers is coming to the rescue.  Someone sent me a TV clip of her promoting her newest book about staying young: “Bombshell”.
In the clip she condenses 30 years of science into about 20 seconds but gets the names of the Nobel laureates correct and gives them their due for their amazing discovery of telomeres and telomerase.
She then goes on to discuss the effects of TA-65.  Now I wish I could tell you that she gets her TA-65 from me and that she read our book, The Immortality Edge, two years ago when it came out and we set the trend for all this.  The former is not the case and I can only speculate on the later. Let’s just say some things sound suspiciously familiar to the words we wrote in that book two years ago, but then again, I don’t know her ghost writer so, I don’t know if that person has our book.
Overall, the effects of her probably inadvertent and unpaid promotion of telomeres, telomerase and TA-65 will do some good things.
Since people trust actresses more than doctors and a whole thunderin’ heard of people know who she is, and just a small tribe (like you!) knows who I am. Word will get out to the world at large.  Telomeres, telomerase and probably TA-65 will become household words. Somehow I think “Dr Dave” will remain anonymous or worse yet, when you search my name, someone else will come up, LOL!
C’est la vie!  This is nothing new and all of us who were the early adopters in the field knew it would take something like this to propel our personal passion into the limelight. Trust me; that is a good thing.
Also a good thing: Suzanne’s well publicized bout with breast cancer should “prove” to people that the whole seemingly unending link between telomerase activation supplements and cancer is just what I have been telling people for almost 3 years now: completely unrelated. I can talk ‘til I am blue in the face but when Suzanne says it, it must be true, right.  So maybe I can stop answering that question for the millionth time!
As we speak, there is an anti-aging conference going on in Orlando Florida. Some of the pioneers and some of the new comers in the field of telomeres and telomerase are there. My coauthor, Greta Blackburn, is there.  My other coauthor, Dr Mike Fossel, who predicted we would be using telomerase 15 years ago, was at the November conference in Las Vegas with me.  Jerry Shay, an early pioneering researcher in telomere biology, is giving a lecture.
Steve Matlin, CEO of LifeLength, super telomere scientist Maria Blasco’s company,  and the only one that does the only commercial telomere testing on the planet, are there!  An entire morning is dedicated to the telomere and telomerase. The entire conference attendance of almost a thousand doctors will most likely be there.
Two years ago, when I gave the single and only talk on the topic at that conference, we had about 200 people in the room. But today the word is finally out to doctors as well as the general public.
Yes, my friend, telomeres, telomerase and TA-65 have gone mainstream and will continue to grow from here on out.
Thousands more will join the rejuvenation revolution.  Thousands more will begin to understand and act on a paradigm that has been searched for since antiquity but arrived in our lifetime. Thousands more will begin the push to longer healthier lives.  Who knows, maybe a few more people will read our book!
I hope my words over the past 2 years have already influenced you to be one of the pioneers we once called “Telonauts”- people who explored the universe of telomere biology and regenerative medicine.
If you are not on TA-65 for whatever reason, I hope you will reconsider. I hope at least you are on the Telomere Edge Packs that came out a month after our book.
I give credit to Suzanne Somers for constantly reinventing herself and giving voice to the mid 60’s baby boom generation and for being on TA-65.  She is not the first famous person to do so – I can tell you that with 100% surety. But she is the first famous person courageous enough to come out and tell the world about the new telomere-based paradigm of staying younger and healthier longer.
That makes the work of some of us less famous souls a little biteasier.
Live long, live well, live fun and I hope it is all easy!
Doc
*You have to have been with me for at least 8 years to recognize all these. We don’t make some of them any more because, literally, we were too far ahead of our time to create a big enough market tosustain them!

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Angels and demons – A very personal message from me on the mind body connection

I recently posted a link to a “skeptics” site on my Facebook page.  I did so primarily because this site underlined my expectations about how buzz words, like epigenetics and telomeres, will be used by marketers who barely scrape the surface of the knowledge base needed to really understand what those words mean.  I got some negative feedback as a result of that post, because some people interpreted it to mean I did not believe in a mind-body connection and one person even used the word “demonize”, which, while it’s a cool word, is a complete misinterpretation of my stance.

Such is the danger of the internet. You write one thing and it is taken out of context and pontificated (another favorite word of mine) upon, without ever bothering to look at any of the other work, or comments the person has done or said.  This is a valuable lesson for me, since it underlines my need to remember that everything I say or write in public has to be geared to the first time listener.

That listener will not have read our book The Immortality Edge. That person will not have read my many posts and blogs on how meditation positively affects the health of the telomere. They will not have read the posts and newsletters I’ve written about the negative effects of stress on the telomere. That person will not have seen the articles on children raised in an orphanage, or kids who are bullied, where several years of life are lost due to the mental stress.  That person will not have seen any of my Youtube videos, much less my in-person presentations at the Longevity Now conferences. They will not have heard my mentions of Bruce Lipton’s Biology of Belief, or of Abraham Hicks teachings.

They also will not have read the many newsletters, blogs and chapters based on the works of Nobel Laureate, Elizabeth Blackburn and her colleague Elisa Epel – almost all of which documents the effects of meditation and stress on your biologic time clock; the telomere.

And they certainly will not have read the following, which is rather personal.  I coach a small group of people on success-related topics (yes, my own little Mastermind) and this is one of the very early writings from 8 or 9 years ago.  I share it with you, so you know where I stand! Here it is:

Magnetic Resonance

Somewhere around 1987, I sat in a large auditorium at Georgetown University.  I was surrounded by other young, impressionable undergrad minds, deep in the process of “getting into med school”.  Many of us were unsure of ourselves and unsure of our futures.

I certainly was.

But each, in our own way, was determined to do our best to get the carrot at the end of that stick, so no matter what they threw at us, we’d deal with it.

That feeling rapidly went out the window, when the Prof who was going to ‘teach us computers’, showed up.

His name was Leddy, I think, and he was billed as one of the inventors of the MRI. (Magnetic Resonance Imaging, for you non-medical types)

Now, Dr Leddy was probably a decent fellow and certainly brilliant.  And in truth, he enriched mankind beyond what most will ever imagine.  Yet I suspect his name will be forgotten in antiquity and I also suspect he had (has) no clue of what he achieved. I am not sure he even cared, as he pushed onward with his research. Inventors are like that. Once one thing is done, it’s on to the next, almost before the final screw is tightened and the final coat of paint has dried.  Ask me how I know.

The sad truth is, that Dr Leddy was SO SMART, he could not communicate with human beings.  He might as well have been from another planet!  What he said was unintelligible and made no sense and he was teaching us – get this – a long defunct computer language known as BASIC!

It was so basic, he could not reduce his mind to the level of human communication needed to teach it.

Perhaps the words “idiot savant” are too strong, but you get the idea.

We all wound up across the river in Alexandria at Radio Shack, where we probably could have learned BASIC, but most of us were so flummoxed (Sorry, you’ll have to look that one up!) by the experience, that no one learned anything and we all got a “B” anyway!

And yet, the MRI has gone on to become one of the premiere discoveries of the 20th century, lending incredible diagnostic power (almost too much, since we all now know we have spondylolisthesis, or stenosis, or compressed discs somewhere in our spines!) to modern medicine.

As a matter of fact, new uses are continuously being developed for this tool and most likely will continue, until Medicare reimbursements push us to the next big thing!

But I am not here to talk about diagnosis or imaging.

I am here to talk about magnetism and resonance.

I wonder if our dear Dr Leddy would understand what he proved?  Somehow, I think not.

He actually proved what success authors have been saying since the dawn of the telegraph and probably long before.

He proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that the human body is a magnetic, electrically charged energy field.  He proved that magnetic resonance, or if you will “natural harmonics”, exist in our bodies.

And where has the MRI been most useful, in even its early iterations?

The brain and spinal column, e.g. the nervous system.

And when someone dies, their physiologic processes of their individual cells do not stop for some time.  What happens at the earliest stages of death is the loss of the electrical charge across the cell membranes (e.g. the way cells communicate!).

Brain death, for instance, is the loss of the electrical activity of the brain, not the absolute death of the body!

Now, this does not prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that “thoughts are things”, but it does lend fire to the argument that the human body and especially the brain, might act as a transmitting and receiving station.  That thoughts indeed could be “things” and that thoughts could potentially be projected and received.

Do you think there is a doctor out there who does not believe that the mind is capable of healing the body of anything… we just don’t think it will happen in our lifetimes!

If one believes this — and deep down, even the most dyed in the wool naysayers would probably admit this, if only in the silence of their own rooms, to only themselves — then one might go so far as to use some of the phrases that pre-date the MRI by decades or even centuries.

Things like, “thoughts become things”  and “as man thinketh” and the more modern, Law of Attraction, begin to “smell” more like science, and feel more like truth, and look more valuable, and sound more plausible than ever before.  The current work of Dr Bruce Lipton is really just a brilliant application of Quantum Physics to ancient mentalist theories. I have no doubt the scientific mechanism for these theories will be found in the long suffering science of epigenetics.

The key point is understanding the importance of spending the only currency you have absolute abundance of and absolute control over, the currency of your thoughts, becomes even more important than ever.

So I remind you of your homework.

Envision what you want, lend it your emotion, and write it and say it out loud 2x a day and with real feeling and belief (faith) that you can and will have it.

I will ask for volunteers to read their goals out loud at the next meeting.  I do not need to hear all of them or everything.  Indeed it’s fine that much of it remains private.  But all aspects (especially, those involving numbers!!!) should be clear, concise and read with conviction.

Or, said another way, what you say and feel should resonate with what you want, so you can magnetize it and draw it to you (if I were a success author, I would say ‘draw it unto you’ to give it that “religious” flavor… lucky for you, I am just Dave!).

At the very least it will activate, or should I say magnetize your limbic system, to seek out examples of what you want in the world.

I look forward to our next meeting!

Dr Dave

P.S. but I still don’t think I can “think my way to blonde hair”!  Also please note, this was written in 2005, long before the explosion of telomere biology and epigenetics became popular.

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Your control over cancer

I hope I am not confusing you with my stance on epigenetics.  Ever since we wrote our book The Immortality Edge (Wiley 2010) I have stressed the role of things like diet, meditation, supplementation, exercise and sleep regulation, as a way of influencing your future health, wellness and longevity. In my Longevity Now talks last year, I reviewed how these things affected epigenetics and predicted, at that time, epigenetics would be the hot topic to come.  And now it is.

There is good news and bad news. Bad news first. Epigenetic study is probably not going to reveal a whole lot of new human behaviors that will modify your future.  Again, reference our book. One commenter, on Amazon, noted that “eating right, exercising and meditation are hardly new”, whining that he/she wanted “new” stuff.  Sorry, my friend, what has worked since the dawn of man will continue to work at a micro (telomeres and epigenetics) and macro (your health and wellness) level.  Additionally, the bad news is we know less about the epigenome than the genome. What I wrote about two years ago and spoke about last year, is becoming apparent: we know less about something that may be far more important than our genes in determining our fate!

Final piece of bad news: in spite of what the usual suspects are telling you, we do not know all that much (other than eating right, meditating, exercising, and supplementing) about how to create really favorable epigenomes, out of not so favorable ones. So while “yoga for epigenetics” or “Our diet or diet pill for epigenetics” or “exercise programs for epigenetics” makes sense, they are as yet unproven, so the claims are to be taken carefully, please.

The good news is that there is tremendous interest (funding) for all that and because of ever increasing computer power and global connectivity, the answers will come flooding in over the next few years, faster than ever!

What is likely to happen first is the disease based model we have lived with in medicine for centuries. Scientists will be looking to develop tests and drugs, to combat unhealthy epigenomes – while Mother Nature has already supplied the answer!

Cancer is one area where there is a flurry of epigenetic research and colon cancer, my personal greatest fear, is tops on the list, as of today, with breast cancer a close second.

A recent article, referenced below, has identified something called VELs, Variant Enhancer Loci that can be used to predict the risk of colon cancer. These are not part of the genome, but rather the epigenome.  They represent methylation gains and losses in thousands of histones (proteins attached to DNA – histones really are the major physical arbiters of epigenetics!) spread across the entire genome.  Since this pattern of changes is strongly predictive of colon cancer risk, it will surely be developed into a “pre test” for said cancer, allowing us to see a person at risk, long before a polyp or cancer develops.  And of course it then allows for follow up testing and a chance to change that epigenetic expression by the doctor and the patient. It does not alter your genetics and if you have high risk genes, you can’t change that. But, by far, most people succumb to their epigenetics, not their genetics, so you really can change the balance of these epigenetic marks, from sickness to health.

In case you are wondering about the role of telomeres here, an increasing percentage of short telomeres is almost always found in these situations, so therapy there may also help reverse the damage.

You will soon see profiles for other types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, as well.  All of these are markers for accelerated aging, in my book, so I am going to predict a significant overlap in these epigenetic marks. Further, I am going to predict that the central clearing house for these effects will be the telomere.

Speaking of books, if you want to know what you can do to clean up your epigenetics, make sure you read our book, The Immortality Edge,  because everything that helps the telomere helps your epigenetics as well!

Stay tuned to the newsletters and blogs so you can get the developments in honest, unadulterated fashion.

Doc

Science. 2012 Apr 12. [Epub ahead of print]

Epigenomic Enhancer Profiling Defines a Signature of Colon Cancer.

Akhtar-Zaidi B, Cowper-Sal Lari R, Corradin O, Saiakhova A, Bartels CF, Balasubramanian D, Myeroff L, Lutterbaugh J, Jarrar A, Kalady MF, Willis J, Moore JH,Tesar PJ, Laframboise T, Markowitz S, Lupien M, Scacheri PC. Source

Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.

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The missing BS detector

I have never been accused of adopting the “Popular Opinion”. Moreover, I make it a point to try to disabuse people of false notions.  The problem is of course touched upon in the blog below, “The Connectivity Trap”, because we have created a totally open forum for human interaction. We have also created a totally open forum for BS.

No one is policing the comments, or stopping the nonsense. For better or worse, I occasionally try.  I thought you might enjoy a week in the life of Dr Dave, as he battles misconceptions and untruths, especially those that smack of “agendas”.  Agendas are fine, if they are based on fact, but otherwise…

The following was a response to what seems to come up endlessly on the internet.  ‘Turning on telomerase increases your cancer risk so TA-65 is dangerous.’  Simply put, this is nonsense.  Here is why:

Randall! Please stop automatically associating cancer with telomerase activation. The only time that has ever happened is when viral vectors are used to insert the telomerase gene into genomes, where it is not present, as in certain genetically engineered forms of mice. Long telomeres reduce cancer risk (JAMA Dec 2010).  Because cancer hijacks telomerase for its own purposes, people mistake telomerase activation as a de facto cancer risk.  It is not.  Studies with TA-65 and other non-commercial telomerase activators have not shown any increase in cancer. People are misconstruing the fact that cancer hijacks telomerase as a risk for cancer, when turning it on in non-cancer cells.  First off, cancer turns on telomerase by gene amplification, mutation, recombination and other methods that do not involve TA-65 or other “derepressors”.  Adding TA-65 to pre-malignant cells, or cancer xenografts (Perry, et. al), does not increase the speed or toxicity of the cancer. Basically, cancer is cancer and adding telomerase activation does not make it more cancerous.  In pre-malignant villous adenoma cultures, the same thing was found – no increase in the rate of cancerous transformation.  TA-65 does things no other single supplement can and has been proven in human trials, as well as cell cultures and animal studies (See Blasco, Maria in pub med). Is it expensive? What are your life and your health worth?  Has anyone else taken anything that can reduce hair loss, gray hair, improve the immune system, bone density, sex drive, eyesight, reduce skin damage, blood pressure, insulin and glucose levels and do so in a proven clinical human trial, not just someone out there claiming it does, in “their experience”. We look forward to even more potent telomerase activators in the future.  After 3+ years of taking TA-65, I will be in the line for the next one, and the next one etc., etc. I wish I could find a way to get people to do more research, before they volunteer their expert opinions on internet forums.  Dave Woynarowski MD, author The Immortality Edge

Next, we have a corollary statement: If turning on telomerase causes cancer (which of course it does not!) then short telomeres must be good.  This statement was extracted by someone who knows nothing about telomeres and is based on an internet hit citing anti-cancer therapy with telomerase inhibitors.  This was a real case of true, true and unrelated!

Statement: Short telomeres protect against cancer.

Short telomeres do not protect against cancer.  Nor do long telomeres or telomerase expression, when turned on in non-cancer cells, promote cancer. Telomeres shorten with each cell replication. Cancer cells are replicating at rates far above most non-cancer cells. They start with short telomeres and their telomeres get shorter as the cancer advances. Cancer hijacks telomerase to lengthen its own, already short telomeres, out of necessity.  Cancer cells would essentially commit suicide, if they were not able to recruit telomerase to maintain enough telomere length, to continue to survive and replicate. Studies have shown (JAMA Dec 2010) that long telomeres are protective against cancer and short telomeres are correlated both with incidence and severity of cancer.

The cancer telomere/telomerase association stems from the fact that 80+% of human cancers do hijack telomerase and use it for their own viability.  The other 15+% use a recombination known as ALT. Cancers can also use both, so the current research into telomerase inhibition as an “anti-cancer” therapy will likely be a temporizing measure at best. The effects of telomerase inhibition on the immune system and stem cell health are also issues.

Bottom line, long telomeres appear to protect against cancer, short telomeres appear to promote it. Shortening telomeres in pre-existing cancers may buy the victim some time but the consequences are not yet clear.  So far, telomerase activation (in the absence of viral vectors, which are known to increase cancer incidence on their own) has not shown any increase in cancer in cell culture animal studies and human studies (Rejuvenation Research Sept 2010). This does not stop people from propagating that myth, however.  Dave Woynarowski MD, author The Immortality Edge

And finally, an erudite internet doc has posted his attack on the Paleo diet while promoting, guess which agenda. His article is entitled “Epigenetics- the Death of the Paleolithic Human” and shows lack of even a basic understanding of the word epigenetics.  Personally, given this individual’s stature, I find that hard to believe and wonder if it was not deliberate! Perhaps this was the result of the infamous “copywriter intervention” that is so prevalent when people become internet superstars.

Epigenetics is the de facto reason for many papers and speculations. It is not, however, the creation of new genes. It is not the creation of altered pathways to handle the high loads of Omega 6 fatty acids in pure vegetarian vegan diets, as an example.  I recently tested Omega 6 to 3 ratios on 60 Vegans and found all were abysmally low on Omega 3 – dangerously so, if one believes Dr Land’s and Dr Simopoulos’  data. The gene for lactase persists a few months longer now than it did thousands of years ago. We have blue eyes in the population, as well as several blood dyscrasias thought to prevent death from malaria past reproductive age.

That is about it as far as mutations that could be cited as evolution. If there are not genes for altering fatty acid metabolism, processing phytic acid, keeping lactase far into adulthood and genetically controlled immune responses to the presence of gluten, then no manner of epigenetic silencing or expression shifting will make these healthy foods for humans.

Perhaps Dr Bland knows of these mutations and the rest of us do not. That would lend a lot more credulity to his “epigenetic” argument. These genes have not yet been sequenced in the human genome, so far as I know.  Interestingly, short term, both Paleo and Vegan style diets yield similar reductions in what are routinely considered unhealthy biomarkers and there are no conclusive long term studies to define the most “healthy” human diet. Ron Rosedale’s data was based on Paleo style eating, but his study was short term.

If one uses the epigenetics argument, then any information from the “China Study” is suspect, as is most population-based information, including that used to justify Paleo, since our American population clearly has different epigenetic expression than rural China or Kitaava for that matter.

We can toss the term epigenetics around to justify our agendas as much as we like, until we understand it better. These days, merely saying the words epigenetics, telomerase, stem cells and so forth, creates a “WOW” factor among the lay public and garners attention. I wish, before saying these words, we would be more cognizant of what we do and don’t know and admit that to the public. I suspect Dr Bland is very clear on what epigenetics really is. Personally, I am willing to admit I was not around 50,000 or 100,000 years ago, so there is still room for new information. Just because an argument sounds smart doesn’t mean it is.  Where are those new genes, Doc?  David Woynarowski MD

I want to personally thank Dr Mehment Oz’s research team for calling attention to things I have done for the past decade. Their attendance to raspberry ketone, Omega 3 testing and L Carnosine in the past few weeks and touting them as “new discoveries” has lent credence to my work!

Dr Dave

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Myths and facts about weight loss – the current thinking

As you may have guessed from the phrase “the current thinking”, this stuff is subject to change.  Much like diets, the actual testing of exercise routines is based far more on “personal experience”, than science.  Even when science gets involved, it gets difficult to find a series of studies that support one thing or another, repeatedly. People basically cherry pick the study that suits their inclination and use that, to the exclusion of anything that refutes that study. I read everything and I try just about everything!

Two years ago, we released our wonderful book, The Immortality Edge.   In that book, we spent a lot of time detailing the effects of interval training and EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption or calorie burn). Interval training, invented back in the 1930’s, enjoyed a significant resurgence and became the routine of the day, in many lay press publications as well.

While I stand by what we said in the book – interval training is the MOST EFFICIENT use of one’s time in exercise – it appears that the whole EPOC equation may have been way overblown, in terms of actual extra calorie burn. This has not stopped the big guns of the MD internet marketing, from launching books, courses and entire web sites devoted to this form of exercise. Not to worry though, it still has huge metabolic and health benefits.

But before we launch into that, let’s look at what else has had its day in the sun.  Basically, that is weight training and “cardio” also known as Aerobics or LSD (long slow distance at low to moderate intensity).

For a while, weight training also enjoyed a heyday, with muscle mags and fitness rags touting its benefits as a primary weight loss tool.  The main reason for the attention was, the “fat burns in the muscle” concept, and of course that it was good for business! The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn when you are at rest or exercising.  Once again, it sounds simple, but it appears the estimates of just how much more fat you burn were grossly exaggerated. Add to that, most hard core weight lifters also set aside days for “cardio”, purely for the health benefits.

Perhaps the longest reigning champion of fitness and weight loss was aerobics, defined as any exercise that gets your heart rate into the 65 to 72% range of your maximum and keeps it there for a minimum of 30 minutes.  Notably, most cardio routines are 60 minutes to give you the extra calorie burn.

Now comes the fun part. What is real and what isn’t, what should you do, and what has been my personal experience after 25 years of medical practice and a certificate as a personal trainer?

Here it is:

1)      Interval type training is the most efficient use of your time.  If you only have 30 minutes a day, this is what you should do.  But, you can’t do it every day or you’ll burn out fast! In addition, I have seen far more disabling injuries from high intensity interval training, especially in middle aged people who are not starting out in good shape.  The safest way to do it is deep water sprinting with a flotation vest.  This is the lowest impact and should spare your joints as well as giving you some of the much touted “Michael Phelps Effect” e.g. you burn more calories in water because you lose calories as body heat, in addition to your exercise.

2)      That said, I have never personally had any success losing weight and inches with ONLY this type of training, unless I do it in circuit fashion with minimal rest (30 to 60 seconds) in between and do it for a full hour.  This is a real grind and here you are again with a one hour time commitment, at least 2-3 times a week, so in many ways it defeats the purpose.

3)      As far as EPOC is concerned, I only ever documented it using a Bodygem device, while taking my Ultra Strength Fat Furnace.  In this case, I was able to show 300 to 500 calories extra fat burn per day, but again much of this could have been from the supplement, not the exercise-induced EPOC.

4)      Weight training or some type of strength training is essential.  It could be with bands, body weight or weights, but in terms of safety and portability I love bands.  That said, I still do traditional weight lifting 2x a week for an hour. For many, it was a huge disappointment to see the lack of calorie burn from extra muscle. Estimates of hundreds of calories a day, for 10 pounds of muscle gain, appear to be completely unfounded. That said, there are all kinds of hormonal reasons why progressive resistance exercise is essential to your health, hormones and metabolism.  The other thing is, it’s probably the ONLY way to preserve fat free mass, while you are losing weight. In other words, it’s the only way to ensure you don’t become what I called “skinny fat”, in my emails a decade ago.

On a personal note, this type of training is also the only way I have personally been able to get the last few pounds off!

5)      Long slow distance aerobics or cardio, seems to be making a return as the best way to burn calories, now that we know that there is no free lunch with exercise. In other words, you still burn the bulk of your calories while you exercise, not while you recover. As you know, I am a sometime ultra runner.  Spending hours in the woods and dales and mud bogs running and struggling, burns a huge amount of calories. But few have, or are even willing to commit the time investment. The other thing, and this is a personal observation, is this kind of exercise tends to create a mountainous appetite when it exceeds one hour in duration.

6)      The fact that it often takes more than an hour of this type of exercise to really burn a significant amount of calories and it is not a free pass to eat whatever you want, led to the misconception best stated as follows.

“For years we have been telling people to exercise like this and all those years we have been watching them get fatter and fatter! So, it must be wrong!”

Um, what you put in your mouth still counts, people!

Confusing, isn’t it!  Actually, no! Where the confusion comes in is when we try to “mix metaphors” by losing sight of our goals.  As the title of this blog implies, the goal is weight loss and if you keep that in mind, the path becomes clear.

The first 6 to 12 weeks of any weight loss program should be spent in circuit training that uses body weight, iron weights, bands, etc in an interval fashion — 30 reps, 1 minute, whatever way you want to define the endpoint, followed by a similar rest period.  You should be breathless most of the time you are exercising and partially recovered when you are in between your sets. You should do this for 1 hour 2 to 3 times a week. You should feel exhausted and unable to think about any other form of exercise when you are done. As you progress through the weeks, you will notice just how fast you get into shape and how much harder you are capable of working out.  And of course, your body will change!

The main caveats are: don’t work out so hard you hurt yourself or cannot get “up” for the next session, and you still have to reduce your calorie intake.  That, my friend, is the hard part.  That is why I make all those supplements!

Doc

P.S.  No matter how many times I say it, someone always writes in and says “you neglected to mention the benefits of my favorite exercise”!  The above is not necessarily the best lifelong exercise plan, it may not have the most health benefits and it may not make you look ripped and shredded! But based on the current literature and my considerable experience, it is the most effective at weight loss.  For the best “anti-aging” effects, keep in mind a program that addresses our weaknesses as we age, such as loss of power and strength, is very important, and we should try to use all of our muscle fibers, fast, slow and medium twitch.

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Telomere turf wars – Taming the Beast and the Blasco Fiasco

Let me be clear.  I am a supplement guy; have been for years.  I take supplements.  I make supplements and I sell supplements, which have unequivocally improved the lives of a lot of people.

As a supplement guy, the most exciting thing to come along ever, has been TA-65, the Astragalus derived compound that lengthens critically short telomeres.  I am certain that it is the first true bridge to real longevity and health span for people.

But not everyone agrees.

Thea Singer, a journalist who writes for The Beast, published a scathing article about TA-65.  It was a cleverly written, thinly veiled attempt to discredit TA-65 and many of the scientists that have worked on it.
The former issue does not bother me.  TA-65 is controversial, because of what it does and how it does it.  The concept that something may actually lengthen life and the cellular mechanisms by which it may do so, are so radical to human thinking, that it will take a while for people to catch on and readjust to a new reality.

That reality is coming no matter what.

Typical agendas to discredit TA-65 include: ‘aging is not a disease, just do normal things like your parents told you, eat right, destress and exercise and you’ll be fine – until you hit 80 and die.’ Then my personal favorite; ‘those greedy doctors are just trying to make a buck out of people who are getting older.’  Since TA-65 is an expensive supplement, many people claim they cannot afford it or simply won’t.

All of that is understandable and typical.

But there are the obvious flaws with the Beast article.

1)     While the mouse model of human aging is very useful, mice do not age by telomere shortening alone and the scientists interviewed in the article know that.  They are also aware, I am sure, of the human published trial with TA-65 showing similar results, to what has been found in mice.

2)     Lack of statistical significance means any finding that does not reach statistical significance is likely to be chance – and the scientists know that too. No doubt they have used that term hundreds of times with that exact meaning in their own studies.

3)     The oral absorption of TA-65 and/or TAT 2, is both well documented by Dr Harley and Co. and the scientists know that as well.  They have no doubt seen the same data and same slides I have that date back to prior to 2007, showing marked improvements in the immune function and reduction in various viral loads in early testing.  I guess all that happened because of the world’s biggest placebo effect and had nothing to do with the compound being absorbed orally.

Again, this kind of stuff is pretty much par for the course for writers who have an anti-anti-aging agenda.

But then they started picking on the individual scientists.

Thea Singer mentioned Cal Harley’s age of 58.  She did not say how old anyone else was, just Cal.  Then came the insinuation that Dr Harley was looking for a soft place to land and some financial gain from TA-65, etc.  I forgot that scientists are not supposed to make money.  They are supposed to grovel for grant money instead.  Money is bad, unless you are a journalist! My bad!

Still, I and thousands and probably soon millions of people, will be in debt in a non-financial way to Dr Harley for his seminal work in the field of telomerase activation and human health and longevity.

Also, somehow Singer forgot to mention that Dr Elizabeth Blackburn, who is one of the Nobel Laureates from 2009, is now in business with Dr Harley.  Care to comment on that Ms. Singer? Does that also make her a 50 something scientist looking for a big financial score?  I doubt it!

Then came the attack on poor (or maybe soon to be not so poor!) Maria Blasco, whose work on the specifics of telomerase activation and its longevity effects is second to none.

I wondered what got everyone so upset at Maria?  After all, she worked for and with one of the Nobel Laureates as well.

Then it dawned on me.

She basically invented short telomere testing, which is the single most important thing for individual results and small group studies, despite the protestations against its use.  Recent articles have shown that the short telomeres are the critical ones in terms of the results of what happens to and inside a cell.

  • The shortest telomere (not average telomere length) is critical for cell viability and chromosome stability. Hemann et al. Cell 107(1): 67-77

Incidentally, this paper is not new; it was published in 2001 from Carol Greider’s lab!

Ultimately the work on short telomeres means that mean telomere length (MTL), long the standard of studies on telomeres, is of marginal use when following an individual’s telomere therapeutics, especially over such a short time frame as one year.

It also means that we should be using that test and not the MTL for such studies, since the MTL is a pretty sloppy test.  I have read studies using a Q-PCR MTL analysis, claiming a near miraculous telomere lengthening after 90 days.  Given that the Q-PCR varies by a standard deviation of 1,000 base pairs, I find those results questionable.  Same with the FLO-FISH, which while twice as good, still has a huge variability gap.

Clearly MTL is very useful but only in the right situations. It only takes one short telomere to send a cell into senescence, crisis or worse.

In vivo telomerase finds the short telomeres first and fixes them first and in many cases exclusively.  That is the natural order of things.  It may be speculation, but it seems that any meaningful improvements in MTL come from the lengthening of short telomeres in the first place.

More outrageous was the insinuation that Maria Blasco’s TA-65 study deliberately coincided with the launch of her new company, Life Length, which is devoted to measuring short telomeres.  Anyone with even a tiny bit of business sense knows that starting a biotech company requires investors and venture capitalists.  I highly doubt Dr. Blasco was able to conveniently arrange for her investments to coincide with the exact date of the TA-65 study.  I highly doubt that was even a consideration.  Still, I am glad it happened.

Then again, I am just a dumb doctor – not a brilliant researcher.  But I can see why people are upset with Maria Blasco for changing the rules of the game and ushering in a really meaningful way for those of us who individually want to follow what is happening to our telomeres.

For the record, I think all of the scientists involved in the “Blasco Fiasco” are brilliant.  But of course Dr. Harley and Dr. Blasco were not asked to comment.  Neither was another brilliant scientist, Dr Bill Andrews, who discovered the human telomerase gene.

I found Ms. Singer’s article pretty repugnant on many levels, but not surprising I guess.  It made me wish scientists would concentrate on being scientists.  It made me wish all of the scientists in this field would get the professional courtesy, recognition and yes, money they deserve for ushering what must surely become the biggest discovering in the history of human health and longevity.

Finally, I wondered why Thea Singer would take such a stance, other than what has already been mentioned.

Maybe her book is not selling.

Ours is doing great.

Dave Woynarowski, MD – co-author The Immortality Edge

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Your DNA’s “Junk” is the Key to Immortality

Telomeres junk?   Not long ago some of the brightest minds on earth believed telomeres were nothing more than junk whose sole purpose was to protect the treasure — your DNA.   It turns out that junk IS the treasure.  Without it there is no life.  Many of those great minds may pretend they “knew it all along”, but no one really knew and who knows what new treasures we’re yet to uncover.

Since the realization of telomeres’ importance, there’s been an explosion in regenerative and longevity medicine.  Scientists are starting to uncover and do the unthinkable.  They’re uncovering new ways to extend life, and most importantly improve the quality of the lives they’re extending.   Instead of a feeble, sick, blind and deaf 100 years, you and I can expect a sharp, vibrant and enjoyable 100 years and beyond.  It’s a long and healthy life, very different than the inevitable decline our parents and grandparents have or are experiencing.

And we have the junk at the end of our DNA to thank.

Every day it seems new research supports and reaffirms that cancer is a disease of short telomeres, heart disease is a disease of short telomeres, Alzheimer’s is a disease of short telomeres, among many other disease “symptoms” of aging.  (I call most of the ailments we call diseases “symptoms”, because the real disease is aging and all of the other so-called diseases are merely symptoms).

In the past few months telomere shortening has shown up to 400% relative risk in cancer versus long telomeres.   The group with short telomeres had deadly, nasty and rapid cancers with little hope of survival.

Shortened telomeres create inflammation through a unique pathway very different than the inflammation that is caused by poor diet, lack of sleep and a sedentary lifestyle.   The inflammation caused by telomere erosion plays a vital role in all diseases of aging.

Antioxidant has been a buzz word in the health industry for several years now, but telomere erosion requires extremely potent anti-inflammatories to combat the accelerated damage our bodies experience as more and more of our cells’ telomeres reach critically short levels.  These super antioxidants help slow telomere loss and are discussed at length in The Immortality Edge.  They include omega-3 fish oil and CoQ10 which have both been shown to reduce rapid telomere segment loss in cells.

You already take fish oil?  Probably not enough.  CoQ10 is part of your supplement regime?  Are you sure you’re taking the proper form?  Read The Immortality Edge supplement plan and you’ll never have to guess whether you’re taking the correct dosage or right form of a nutrient and making the proper lifestyle choices to truly extend your lifespan and healthspan.  You’ll know.

Don’t treat your telomeres like junk.  If you want to live to see a healthy active 100+ years, read the book, implement the plan and I’ll see you in 100 years.

Afraid it’s too late?  Worried that your telomeres are shot, too short to even bother preserving?  Well, after years of screening over 250,000 compounds a natural supplement was found, tested and proven to not only stop telomere shortening but help lengthen telomeres as well.  It’s called TA-65, and it’s also covered at length in The Immortality Edge.  Everything you need to know about how to extend your healthy years is laid out in one comprehensive and easy-to-understand book.

It’s never too late to treat your telomeres like the treasure they truly are!

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Are You a Genetic Time Bomb?

Recent research into the role of genes and more importantly the stuff around our genes known as the epigenome reveals why some of us may be a genetic time bomb ticking away.  What can you do to stop the clock?

During my years of medical practice I was approached by patients with real fears that they were doomed to repeat their parents’ deaths.

We learned this fear was unfounded and unnecessary when we sequenced the entire human genome several years ago.  We now realize that 70-80% of whether we become afflicted with illness or disease is within our control.  The lifestyle modifications recommended in The Immortally Edge are crucial to help prevent the ailments we once believed resulted from the cruel and inevitable roll of the genetic dice.

Your genes act like a library containing many books.  Your epigenome represents the books you check out and actually read.  This is how you “change your fate”.

One example of this is related to how our body converts plant Omega-3 and Omega-6 to a useful and necessary substance called Prostaglandins that our cells need to function properly.  Prostaglandins are formed by the metabolic conversion of EFAs (essential fatty acids).  The conversion requires enzymes which assist with the conversion over several steps.  Once EFAs are converted to Prostaglandins, they work similar to hormones to help cells maintain normal functioning.  Prostaglandins appear to be involved in nearly every body function.  Various Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids form different Prostaglandins with different activities.  A proper balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 is important for maintaining health because they compete for the same enzymes for conversion.  Only 5-10% of Linoleic Acid (found in all oils) and Alpha-Linolenic Acid (found in flax, hemp, chia and black currant) converts to our body’s much needed Prostaglandins.  Some people lack the conversion enzymes and don’t convert any of the plant based Omega-3s.

You may be genetically predisposed to Prostaglandin deficiencies because you lack the enzymes to properly convert Omega-3 and Omega-6 intake.  You wouldn’t know you were among the misfortunate genetic group, but luckily you have the power to override this genetic misfortune by taking an Omega-3 fish oil supplement. 

Inadequate Omega-3 EPA and DHA intake can lead to low IQ, allergies, heart disease, breast and prostate cancers.  You can wait for reliable genetic tests to identify these various and sundry gene problems, or you can act now and avoid the risks involved with low Omega intake and conversion.

I recommend 6 grams of fish oil a day to help you avoid becoming a genetic time bomb!

Best in health,

Dr. Dave Woynarowski, MD, CPT