This has been a gigantic week, for people like me at least. In the face of so much controversy about what I do and what I say and have in most cases said for years, I have never been more clear that I am on the right path.
As a very brief recap, here are the main points: “fish oil no good for heart disease” – a meta-analysis, short telomeres linked to mammalian aging – Maria Blasco study, Omega 3 supplements may slow a biological effect of aging – Brain, Behavior, and Immunity study.
Those three studies are at least 50% of what I talk about and most of what truly interests me as an anti-aging Doc.
The first, of course, is a negative study about the effects of fish oil in heart disease. Frankly, this is a remake of a Dutch study done two years ago, but that one was a real study.
The flaws in the study are obvious: Meta-analysis – garbage in garbage out. Some of the data used dates back to the 1980’s and is extremely suspect in methodology.
All patients already had heart disease and all were placed, when necessary, on escalating doses of prescription drugs like statins, etc. Not one was just on fish oil.
The fish oil dose was inadequate – 1 a day. No levels were checked and who knows about the quality of the supplement they chose.
What I don’t understand is why this one got so much press and the Dutch study, which was at least using real people instead of computer generated statistics, got so little. That was a bad study; this one is worse. Well, the great Oz is scheduled to “cut through the crap and give us the real scoop on Omega 3’s” soon.
Next, was my favorite scientist in the telomere field, Maria Blasco, validating, yet again, the utility of short telomeres, short telomere testing and indirectly TA-65, which has been shown to critically lengthen short telomeres by directly linking them to mammalian longevity and pointing out their relevance in humans.
Those of you who’ve read our book The Immortality Edge, know I predicted all this, including the next thing, which is:
Fish oil slows down the loss of the telomere, which means it is likely to help you have less of those nasty critically short telomeres. Back in 2008, a fellow named Undurti Das wrote a paper citing fish oil as a potential telomerase activator. In 2010 a study was done and published JAMA. 2010 Jan 20;303(3):250-7 in JAMA, the same journal that published the ridiculous meta-analysis above. It bore the names of Liz Blackburn, the Nobel Laureate, as well as some other well known heavy hitters in the field.
It said, “Increased dietary intake of marine omega-3 fatty acids is associated with prolonged survival in patients with coronary heart disease. However, the mechanisms underlying this protective effect are poorly understood. Among this cohort of patients with coronary artery disease, there was an inverse relationship between baseline blood levels of marine omega-3 fatty acids and the rate of telomere shortening, over 5 years.”
In English, that means the higher the blood levels of fish oil, the longer the telomeres. I wonder if Dr Oz will ask Liz to be on his Omega 3 show? Somehow, I doubt it.
Now, one final point. People have sent me the ads for yet another “telomerase activator”. This one is supposedly packed with more telomerase activators than I even knew existed and it has a rather amusing name that was generated in jest, but apparently was taken seriously here.
Back in December of 2010, in response to requests from readers of The Immortality Edge, I created what became known as the Telomere Edge Packs, based on my research. I state very clearly, that I will not claim telomerase activation in people for a supplement that has no human testing. That has not stopped the bevy of companies and individuals out there from doing just that. While it is not a “lie”, it’s a stretch and misrepresentation, in my opinion, to claim you have something fabulous that works in people, when you have never done studies to prove it. Spraying something over a Petri dish is far different than a human being swallowing a pill. Even farther off, is doing a PubMed search for “telomerase activators” and throwing what you find into a pill and calling it something it isn’t.
I call the Telomere Edge Packs a “telomere support” supplement, based on my very extensive research for our book and my clinical experience with the compounds I chose. But they are not TA-65.
Nothing is, since nothing else has the long and thorough record of human testing. And until it does, don’t swallow it!
If you can’t or won’t afford it, look into the Telomere Edge Packs.
And for heaven’s sake, take your fish oil – no matter what more sensationalized nonsense comes out. And make no mistake there will be more of that!
P.S. If you happen to be in mid-town Manhattan tonight, swing by the Lighthouse theatre on 59th and say hello. I will be there talking telomeres to a packed house along with some friends of mine: Bill Andrews of Sierra Sciences, the guy who discovered the human telomerase gene, Mike Fossel, one of my co-authors who advanced the telomere theory of aging way back in 1996 with his first book, “Reversing Human Aging”, Cal Harley, senior scientist at Geron and a gigantic contributor to the understanding of telomeres/telomerase. He also discovered TA-65, by the way. And two very experienced anti-aging clinicians, Drs Comite and Petre.