Mar
14
2020

Telomeres are Important

In the first place, Dr. Joseph Raphaele reviewed why telomeres are important at a Conference in Las Vegas in December 2019. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15, 2019. The actual title of his lecture was: “Telomeres in 2019; clinical developments and cutting-edge applications”.

Notably, Dr. Raphaele reviewed how various animals have quite different life expectancies. First, the Aldabra giant tortoises, for instance can live up to 152 years. Second, the house mouse can at the most live up to 6 years, but its predator, the cat lives up to 38 years. Finally, humans can live up to 122.5 years.That is to say, the average mortality rate doubling curve of man is 8 years. Dr. Raphaele introduced the terms “lifespan” and “health-span”.

Lifespan versus health-span

The first thing to remember is that our lifespan is defined by the number of years we live. On the contrary, the health-span is defined by the number of years you do not have any disease and your physical and mental health are good. Dr. Raphaele explained that for the most part the body’s organs have a limit of functioning after 80. For this reason the kidneys, the maximum heart rate, the maximum breathing capacity and the maximum work rate (oxygen uptake) all decline after the age of 80. It is important to realize that in 1961 Dr. Leonard Hayflick showed that there is a limit of how often cells can divide. After 60 doublings cells in tissue culture either die or just stop dividing. The built-in molecular clock resides in the telomeres. The telomeres are the caps at the end of the chromosomes in the cell’s nucleus.

Telomeres and their function in aging

In a word, what is the function of telomeres? In essence, the telomeres protect the integrity of our genes. For the most part, they protect the chromosomes from deteriorating, prevent DNA fusion and massive instability of the genes. In addition, the telomeres allow the cells to divide in an orderly fashion, but only up to the Hayflick limits. In short, the bottom line is that telomeres prevent cells from mutations of the DNA, from senescence and from death.

Shortening of telomere length with age

Dr. Raphaele said that one of the important findings was that telomere length is shortening with age. Notably, he showed a slide similar to this. To clarify, this graph shows telomere length as a function of the lifespan in years. The telomere length is obtained by a blood test. This determines the length of the telomeres in white blood cells. At a young age it has a length of between 8 and 10 kb. kb stands for kilobase. A kilobase consists of 1,000 pairs of nucleic acid sequences. So, 10 kb means 10,000 pairs of nucleic acid sequences. Around the age of 80 people have much shorter telomeres, only 4 to 6 kb. There is an enzyme, called telomerase that can elongate telomeres by approximately 10%. But this may not be desirable as too much telomerase activation can also stimulate cancer growth.

Age changes telomere length

Dr. Raphaele explained further that a telomere loses about 100 base pairs per cell division. But there are other factors that shorten telomeres. Smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, stress and a low antioxidant status all can shorten telomeres. Certain congenital conditions can shorten telomeres by 28%. Dyskeratosis congenita is such a condition where 80% patients die by the age of 30 due to aplastic anemia. This is associated with bone marrow failure. 10% of these patients die from cancer. Apart from age, which shortens telomeres slowly, lifestyle factors are very important. A good lifestyle where you exercise regularly, you don’t smoke and you eat a healthy diet will slow down the shortening of your telomeres. Controlling your stress, sleeping enough hours per night and taking supplements also delays telomere shortening. Certain medications that control diabetes, high blood pressure or thyroid medication that treats hypothyroidism also delay telomere shortening.

Telomeres and shortened lifespan

Researchers could show that good lifestyle practices work by increasing telomerase to a certain degree. This results in lengthening of telomeres and translates into up to 10 years of increased life span. Jerry Shay, PhD said in 2011: “While the aging process is complex and certainly cannot be explained solely on the basis of telomere biology, there is a growing consensus that in some situations telomere biology and telomere tests may have important utility similar to cholesterol assays or blood pressure monitoring measurements.”

Telomeres are not just a biological clock inside our cells. They have a great influence on the function of mitochondria and on how many mitochondria multiply inside cells. This latter process is called mitochondrial biogenesis. In addition, telomeres regulate gene expression.

Chronic diseases associated with shortened telomeres

Here is a list of chronic diseases where all the patients have shortened telomeres.

  • High blood pressure
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • Cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetes and obesity
  • Chronic stress
  • Metabolic syndrome

Telomeres in cardiovascular disease

Telomere length was found to be shortened in those who developed a heart attack. Researchers compared the telomere length in coronary artery disease (CAD) patients to people with no history of heart attacks. In comparison to this normal group the heart attack victims had telomeres typical for people who are chronologically 11.3 years older than the healthy controls. The researchers calculated that people with telomere shortening had a 3-fold higher risk of coming down with a heart attack.

Telomere length enhancers

  1. Lifestyle changes can have positive effects on telomere length. Examples are smoking cessation, weight loss and stress reduction.
  2. Dietary changes: we know that fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) supplements elongate telomeres as does a low-fat diet.
  3. Supplements like vitamin D3, antioxidants (vitamin C and E) and astragalus (TA-65) elongate telomeres as well. The astragalus supplement, TA-65 showed a significant elongation of telomeres after 12 months while controls lost telomere length.
  4. Exercise: in a 24-week experiment of care workers regular aerobic exercise increased the telomeres by 67.3 base pairs.
  5. Bioidentical hormone replacement in aging people: when hormones are missing after andropause and menopause, the natural hormones need replacing, or the telomeres are shortening.
  6. High cortisol levels cause telomere shortening.
  7. Human growth hormone elongates telomeres via telomerase activation.
  8. The fasting mimicking diet (FMD) was shown to extend life and telomeres as well.

Therapeutic rationale for telomere lengthening in CAD and AD

Patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) are at risk for developing heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. Here is an overview of many clinical trials that have been done in humans with CAD. It shows shortening of telomeres in these high-risk patients. But the review also shows that telomeres can lengthen by changing the risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Researchers were increasing the enzyme telomerase that indirectly lengthens telomeres. Both approaches prevent serious cardiovascular disease and increase life expectancy significantly. In severe cases of telomere shortening the physician can consider TERT gene therapy.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) also is a condition where telomeres are shortened compared to normal controls. Time will tell whether TERT gene therapy is possible to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Telomeres are Important

Telomeres are Important

Conclusion

Telomeres are the caps of the chromosomes in our cells. In the past the word “telomere” appeared obscure and only scientists discussed this among themselves. Now we know that telomere shortening is often the reason for chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and obesity. Patients who have these conditions often have shortened telomeres in their white blood cells. Over the years we have learnt that lifestyle changes can have positive effects on telomere length. Smoking cessation, exercise, weight loss and stress reduction are elongating telomeres.

Additional factors elongating telomeres

In addition, supplements like antioxidants (vitamin C and E), vitamin D3 and astragalus root (TA-65) elongate telomeres as well. By elongating telomeres, a person can add 10 to 11 years of disease-free life to the normal life expectancy. Researchers showed that telomerase activation by human growth hormone increased telomere length without causing cancer. Dr. Thierry Hertoghe, an endocrinologist from Belgium spoke about HGH replacement in aging people on other occasions. He said that cautiously treating patients with low doses of HGH when blood tests showed deficiency, adds about two decades of life-expectancy to these patients’ lives.

Feb
22
2020

Clinical Applications of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Dr. Kurt Hong, professor of clinical medicine spoke about clinical applications of the fasting mimicking diet in Las Vegas. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine on Dec. 14, 2019. Although he spoke on various forms of fasting, he concluded that the fasting mimicking diet had the best results and was most consumer-friendly.

How we age

Dr. Hong reviewed the processes of aging. We age, because our cells experience oxidative damage and our telomeres (the end caps of our chromosomes) get shorter in time. We also age, because there are genetic mutations in our cells’ DNA and our mitochondria are aging as well. The mitochondria are the small energy packages inside the cells that give us energy. When people age, they have lost mitochondria, there is less energy that the body makes out of food and we feel chronically tired.

Above the age of 65 we are also likely to develop diseases of various organs:

  • Heart disease: 31%
  • Cancer: 24%
  • Chronic lung disease (lower respiratory disease): 21%
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 13%
  • Diabetes: 11%

Women are generally healthier than men and their life expectation is 4 to 5 years longer than that of men.

Cellular and molecular aging

Longevity researchers have done mouse experiments and human clinical trials for decades. Dr. Hong asked the question: how much longer could humans live, if we could cure cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes? The answer is: 13 years. But if we transfer the animal data to humans it should be 30 years of longer life. Why is there such a discrepancy? The answer is that it is easy to force good lifestyles onto animals, but humans are resistant to changes. Humans have their habits; they like to continue to smoke and eat fast food instead of switching to a healthier Mediterranean diet. Humans also resist a regular exercise program. And they do not want to hear that they should replace missing hormones with bioidentical ones. The result is that we humans will prolong our lives only by less than 50% of what we could achieve.

The concept of intermittent fasting

Dr. Hong stated, that ten thousand years ago, people did not always have enough food to eat. They were forced to intermittently fast. That did not mean that they had long life expectancies, as there was no cure for any disease. But one fact was true: the body learnt to rejuvenate itself during periods of fasting. And these longevity genes are still present in our genes. But they will only help us when we actually fast for some periods of time.

Dr. Hong reviewed what kind of fasting methods are available.

Prolonged fasting and juice fasting are not among the options. With prolonged fasting electrolyte disturbances become an issue. Juice fasting does not remove enough calories and nutrients. This, however is needed to allow the body to stimulate the longevity genes.

How fasting diets work

Dr. Hong explained that there are essentially 5 fasting diets that are effective in regulating the key nutrient sensitive pathways of IGF-1, TOR and PKA. This increases cellular protection and maintenance. It also increases activation of stress resistance pathways and removes and replaces damaged and dysfunctional cells. Finally, a fasting diet also reduces inflammation, which is often the start of disease.

A review of the 5 fasting diets

Time-restricted eating (TRE)

With TRE the person fasts for 12 to 16 hours every day. The person restricts the daily food consumption to a 4- to 12-hour window. The disadvantage is that this fast is done every day. The period of fasting may not be long enough to change the metabolism, where the above-mentioned effects take place.

Alternate-day fasting  

This is a 24-hour fast every other day with a 1:1 day eating-fasting cycle. This does not appear to be physiological and is disruptive with regard to social activities.

5:2 intermittent fasting

With this fast you fast for 2 days every week. With this 2:5 eating-fasting cycle the person fasts for 2 days every week; the other 5 days you eat as much as you desire.

Although this is effective, it can be quite disruptive to your lifestyle.

Periodic fasting

You fast for 48 to 72 hours every couple of months. This fast is socially more acceptable. It is not that often, just a couple of times in a year. The question remains whether it is effective in changing the metabolism to trigger the effects mentioned above.

Fasting-mimicking diet (FMD)

The original suggestion by Dr. Longo, the inventor of the FMD was that you should fast for 5 days once every month. Since then he has modified it and said that you can achieve similar metabolic changes, if you only fast for 3 days and do this a couple of times per year. I have done the FMD since December 2017 and I adhere to the original schedule of doing the FMD monthly for 5 days. This has provided me with more energy. It is easier to keep my body mass index in the 21.0 to 22.0 range. Dr. Hong explained that the FMD allows you to eat, but it tricks the body into acting like you are fasting. Because you are eating 500 to 600 calories per day, you are getting some fluid and nutrients, so the hunger pangs are tolerable.

More details about the FMD

Here is Dr. Hong’s summary about the FMD: “The stomach sees food, while the cells see fasting”. Dr. Hong said that the FMD is the most user-friendly method of fasting. It also has had the most scientific studies to validate that it is indeed working. Poorly functioning mitochondria and misfolded proteins are removed by a process of phagocytosis. The FMD reduces heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders. Stem cell production also gets a boost. This promotes cell regeneration and reduces risk factors of premature aging.

Publication on the effectiveness of the FMD

A publication came out in 2017 reporting about the findings of a clinical trial regarding the FMD.

Researchers followed markers of aging, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease in 100 volunteers. They underwent a FMD for 5 days on 3 consecutive months. The results were astounding. The body mass index, the fasting blood sugar level, triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol and the CRP were all lower. CRP stands for C-reactive protein, which measures the degree of inflammation in the body. The blood pressure was also lower. Overall the 5-day FMD was a safe method with no side effects. The FMD reduced markers and risk factors of aging and age-related diseases. In doing so it prolongs life by reducing the likelihood of coming down with disease.

Who should abstain from fasting?

Dr. Hong mentioned that the FMD is not for everybody. Pregnant women should refrain from going on it, also type 1 and type 2 insulin dependent diabetics. Anybody who has a sign of an active infection (coughing, having a fever or diarrhea) should be excluded. Other exclusions are people who are underweight (BMI less than 18.5) or are malnourished (protein deficiency). Patients with heart failure and advanced kidney or liver disease should not take part in a fasting program.

Autoimmune diseases and FMD

The myelin sheath around the axon of nerve cells in the central nervous system are supported by oligodendrocytes. In multiple sclerosis (MS) patients T lymphocytes activate macrophages and B cells to produce autoantibodies. They destroy oligodendrocytes breaking down the insulating barrier of the myelin sheath. In MS patients the broken-down myelin sheath suppresses the electrical impulses transmitted through the nerve fibers. The FMD led to clinical improvements.

In a pilot study intermittent fasting changed the gut flora into a healthier flora.

This triggered the immune system in the gut to make less inflammatory T cells producing the IL-17 cytokines. There was also an increase in regulatory T helper cells.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBM) can be improved with several courses of FMD. As the authors showed, intestinal inflammation improved with FMD. The intestinal gut flora improved with the FMD and it promoted intestinal regeneration.

Reversal of physical and functional decline

The fasting mimicking diet (FMD) has a variety of effects on the human body. Dr. Hong showed a slide where we could see that ketone bodies, cortisol and ghrelin levels are increased in the blood. At the same time glucose, insulin, leptin and IGF-1 levels are reduced. In addition, triglycerides and LDL levels are getting lower. Inflammatory markers including the C-reactive protein (CRP) are reduced as well.

Effects of the FMD on various organs in the body

A look at all of the organs shows that in the liver the ketone body production and insulin sensitivity are up. Glycogen production in the liver as well as the liver size are down.

The intestines produce ketone bodies. In the skeletal muscles the insulin sensitivity is increased, while the muscle structure and function are improved. In the brain the hunger feeling increases the release of neurotropic factors including the neuropeptide Y. Cognitive function and stress resistance increase with the FMD. The FMD reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. With respect to the cardiovascular system the heart rate drops down and blood pressure gets lower. The insulin production in the pancreas is reduced.

Fatty tissue

In fatty tissue lipolysis is up and also the production of adiponectin. This is a protein hormone involved in glucose and fatty acid metabolism. Insulin sensitivity with the FMD is also increased. On the other hand, the FMD reduces fat mass, leptin production and inflammation.

The FMD is the solution to preventing disease and prolonging your life

All of these effects lead to a reversal of physiologic and functional declines. Age-related metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes are postponed or eliminated. The FMD prevents neuro-cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the risk of developing cancer is getting lower. In summary, the FMD improves the health-span, quality of life and can prepare you for a long life.

Clinical Applications of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Clinical Applications of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Conclusion

Dr. Kurt Hong is a professor of clinical medicine at UCLA. He gave a talk at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas on Dec. 14, 2019. He discussed what we could do to help patients with various autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. It turns out that the fasting mimicking diet (FMD) is the best solution to reduce inflammation and modify  the autoimmune response from aggressive T lymphocytes. With the FMD you consume only 500 to 600 calories per day for 5 days every month. The rest of the days of the month you eat a healthy Mediterranean-type diet.

Fasting mimicking diet, the best way to treat autoimmune diseases

Dr. Hong explained in detail what cellular mechanisms are at work to achieve the modification of the immune system in autoimmune diseases. The FMD is also the solution to slow down aging in healthy people. Dr. Hong discussed clinical applications of the fasting mimicking diet fort autoimmune diseases. It is easier to prevent disease than it is to cure an illness. The FMD is an easier way, because you don’t fast completely, you only reduce your food intake to the bare minimum, but your body “thinks” that you are fasting.

Ultimately, this approach does take some effort, and it does take time to familiarize yourself with it. If patients do it for the first time, they will experience some hunger, the first and second day tend to be a hurdle! Once you make it part of a health routine on a regular basis, it is a lot easier.

Jun
02
2018

Combatting Aging using Artificial Intelligence

I found an article dealing with combatting aging using artificial intelligence. It comes from the April 2018 edition of the Life Extension Magazine.  Both of those concepts sound intriguing: “combatting aging”. It would be nice, if this would be a possibility! And “artificial intelligence” (A.I.) sounds mysterious. LifeExtension researchers have partnered up with an A.I. group, called Insilico Medicine.

Why did Life Extension engage in this project? Many people have side effects with the drug metformin, which is an old diabetes drug. It turns out that metformin stimulates anti-aging genes that help to elongate telomeres and also activate genes that prolong lives otherwise. The thought was to find out how exactly metformin protects against age-related disorders. Once researchers located the genes, they may be able to find herbs that can do the same as drugs with less side effects. Often herbs are safer than drugs.

Background regarding metformin

The FDA accepted metformin (trade name Glucophage) as the first-line therapy for type 2 diabetics, particularly if they are overweight or obese.

Side effects include gastrointestinal irritation with vomiting, cramps, diarrhea and flatulence. Even though this drug is not new, research does not fully understand all metabolic effects of metformin.

Promise of metformin as an anti-aging drug

A trial in Great Britain found that metformin has an interesting anti-aging effect. Diabetics on metformin lived longer than a control group of patients without diabetes who were not on metformin. The diabetics lived 15% longer than the controls. Further experiments with human cells and animal experiments showed that metformin is able to stimulate the mitochondria without producing as many free radicals. Free radicals cause inflammation that leads to heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. The suggestion is that all of these diseases will be suppressed when the patient is on metformin.

Mimicking the effects of metformin with three herbs

The co-operative research between the Life Extension researchers and Insilico Medicine researchers concentrated on finding data that would replace the beneficial effects of metformin with three herbs stimulating the same life-prolonging targets in human cells. This is not a small task. The following three herbs in combination cover more than 78% of the actions of metformin.

Withaferin A (found in Ashwagandha)

Weight loss

Withaferin A is a component of the life-prolonging herb ashwagandha. This herb is in use in Ayurvedic medicine because of its ant-inflammatory action; it is also anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, anti-obesity and has appetite-regulating activities. An important observation by researchers was that within 21 days of exposing obese mice to withaferin A they lost 23% of their weight. Other mice on the same diet received control solutions and did not lose weight.

Effect on neurodegenerative disease

There is a neurodegenerative condition, called Lou Gehrig disease (=amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). A group of mice that were the subjects of genetic modification to develop Lou Gehrig disease received withaferin A in their food. Compared to controls without withaferin A they had a 39% reduction of damaged proteins in their spinal cords. They also had 60% less loss of motor nerve cells. These are the nerve cells that pass on the electrical signals between the brain, the spinal cord and into the muscles. The life span of these animals that received withaferin A was 5.4% longer than control animals.

Ginsenoside (found in Ginseng)

The structure of ginsenoside is steroid-like. As the name already suggests, it is present in ginseng. The Insilico Medicine team noticed that it affects many of the same age-decelerating pathways like metformin. Ginsenoside prevents damage to the DNA and prevents loss of mitochondria, particularly in the brain and heart. In cancer cases ginsenoside also suppresses cancer stem cells, which slows down cancer growth. All in all ginsenoside reduces inflammatory changes; it also fights neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Gamma linolenic acid (present in borage seed oil)

Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is a fatty acid. The source of it is the evening primrose plant, black currant oil or borage. The Insilico Medicine researchers found that many pathways that metformin triggers are also responding to GLA. GLA can reduce inflammation, help with adaptation to stress can modulate metabolism and participates in regulation of gene expression. GLA is also part of energy sensing in diabetes and obesity. It also can slow down cancer development.

Discussion

One has to be cognizant of the fact that LifeExtension is in the business of selling herbal supplements. It would be in the company’s interest to find an herbal combination that mimics what Metformin does. They say they have found it; so we are told in the April 2018 article of the LifeExtension magazine. But a 78% overlap of actions when the herbs were compared to metformin is not a 100% overlap.

Conflict of interest

There seems to be a conflict of interest between doing basic research on anti-aging and marketing an anti-aging product. I like to see confirmation of these findings by other independent researchers. I am not too keen to spend $1.40 every day for the rest of my life in the hopes that this herbal concoction would slow down aging. Also to state that this mix of three herbs would do the same as Metformin is a large leap of faith. At this point I am not even ready to swallow metformin just because of one trial in England that showed a beneficial anti-aging effect.

Combatting Aging using Artificial Intelligence

Combatting Aging using Artificial Intelligence

Conclusion

The old dream of finding a pill for anti-aging is alive and well. If you believe this research you are likely to buy this pill and keep on taking it for the rest of your life. But I am not so certain that either swallowing metformin or swallowing this herbal concoction will do what the researchers were hoping for. They have done some basic research with mice and rats. But they tested each of the herbs  separately, and the researchers have then mixed the herbs and claim, that this mix will do what each single herb in isolation has done. We do not know anything about the interaction between these herbs. We do not know whether there will be the same anti-aging results with the mix. All these claims are yet subject to more testing.

Proposed clinical trial

I like to see a human trial where the anti-aging pill of Life Extension is given once per day for several years (let’s say 5 years). After that anti-inflammatory indicators, telomere length and toxicity should be tested in each subject that is part of the study. If trials like this were successful in humans, I would consider buying this new supplement, but not any earlier!

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Sep
09
2017

Young Heart Stem Cells Can Cure Old Hearts

Young heart stem cells can cure old hearts in rats. This is what research at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles found. You may not be that impressed, because this talks about rats and not humans. But this is a brand-new concept, so of course research of animal experiments is first.

The heart experiment

Dr. Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, is the research director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. His idea was to take cardiac stem cells (called cardiosphere-derived cells) from hearts of newborn rats. He injected them into 22 months old rats. The human equivalent for 22 months old rats are older people with older hearts. Within one months of the stem cells’ injections the older rats had normal functioning hearts. Their telomeres were also normal. Telomeres are the caps of the chromosomes of the heart cells. The researchers were astonished to find that the previously short telomeres had become longer. This happened within only one month of the stem cell injections. To Marbán’s surprise the older rats also grew hair faster and gained 20% of their previous exercise tolerance limit. In other words, the injection of heart stem cells had rejuvenated the old rats.

Dr. Marbán has previously shown that exosomes play an important role with stem cell regeneration of old heart cells. These particles from the stem cell donor contain RNA and other growth factors.

Overview of how stem cells can reverse heart failure

Cardiovascular disease includes high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke and congestive heart failure. About 2600 Americans die from cardiovascular disease each day in the US. This is roughly one death every 34 seconds. With old age, if a heart attack does not kill you, congestive heart failure will. With heart failure your heart ceases to pump enough blood through your system. Nutrients and oxygen need to reach all of our cells or it means death for the patient. With the knowledge of this serious background, stem cells have come into the focus in an attempt to combat congestive heart failure.

Animal experiments with stem cells in mice, rats and pigs have shown some progress in restoring better heart function. Researchers used different sources of stem cells, like cardiac stem cells that reside in the heart muscle itself. They also used other stem cell sources. Among these were myoblasts (from muscle), mesenchymal stem cells (from fat tissue) and bone marrow stem cells. Several smaller human trials showed that improvement of heart function was possible following a heart attack. In the procedure the surgeon opened coronary arteries and injected stem cells into the affected damaged heart muscle. How can we assess the result of a successful stem cell treatment? By measuring the left ventricular ejection fraction. This means that the heart can deliver a larger volume of blood every minute. The heart pumps more blood from the left ventricle with each heartbeat than before the treatment.

Other experiments that rejuvenate tissues of older animals

Another line of experiments in this paper shows that certain growth factors are necessary to activate stem cells.

  1. One experiment from the 1950’s describes the stitching together of the skin on their flanks joined an old and a young rat. After this procedure the blood vessels grew and joined the two animals circulatory systems. The older animals knee cartilage damage was no longer there, as the cells from the young animals’ blood had healed the damage.
  2. Research had no knowledge of this fact at that time. But another research group in the 2000’s repeated the experiment and could prove that the stem cells of the young animals activated the growth factors in the old animals.
  3. In 2004 Dr. Rando noted that muscle cells of aging mice were aging because of a lack of stimulation of the local skeletal muscle stem cells. These are satellite cells. Experiments similar to the rat experiment showed that there were factors in the blood of young mice that could re-activate stem cells in the muscles of old mice. Agility and movement of the older mice improved. The improvement in the older mice with knee arthritis disappearing and liver cells rejuvenating was astounding.

More evidence that rejuvenation of heart cells is possible

  1. Amy J. Wagers, a former colleague of Dr. Rando carried on experiments with respect to rejuvenation of hearts in mice. She and her colleagues found what stimulated the hearts of old mice. It was a protein called GDF11 (from young mice).  This 2016 publication describes the action of GDF11.
  2. A 2014 paper describes that GDF11 was able to restore aging muscles to a youthful state. But the researchers were also able to rejuvenate stem cell function in general with GDF11.
  3. Another paper describes that blood from young mice stimulates the brain of older animals to achieve rejuvenation. It is the protein of the young stem cells (called GDF11) and possibly other growth factors to bring about this rejuvenation. It works not only on heart cells, but also on hippocampus tissue in dementia models. This may be important in humans for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We can turn back the clock instead of slowing the clock down.” Dr. Toren Finkel said. He is the director of the Center for Molecular Medicine at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. He went on to say: “That’s a nice thought, if it pans out.” But others who caution that overstimulation of stem cells could cause cancers say: “It is quite possible that it will dramatically increase the incidence of cancer,” Dr. Irina M. Conboy said, a professor of bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. “You have to be careful about overselling it.”

Degenerative changes in humans responding to stem cells

Many degenerative changes in humans respond to stem cell treatments. Are there stem cells present in degenerative tissue in humans similar to the animal experiments described above? Are the stem cells merely providing growth factors so the dormant stem cells jump into action and regenerate? Could it be that in future therapists could give a certain growth factor mix  intravenously to a patient, and the same effect as stem cell injections would be posssible? These are all unanswered questions, but research in the next decade should answer at least some of those questions.

Growth hormone improving heart function in heart failure patients

In 2008 a metaanalysis of human studies of congestive heart failure and treatment with human growth hormone (HGH) injections was a research topic. It showed an average increase of the ejection fraction by 4.3%. There were also increased cardiac output, decreased systemic vascular resistance and improved hemodynamic effects. The question is whether the effect is a direct effect on the heart muscle cells by HGH or whether HGH was recruiting dormant heart muscle stem cells. This is not clear at this point.

Young Heart Stem Cells Can Cure Old Hearts

Young Heart Stem Cells Can Cure Old Hearts

Conclusion

We have entered an exciting period of medical research. Although there is only a record of many animal experiments, there is overwhelming evidence that the same principles are true in humans. Many stem cell protocols for humans have already seen use for various applications. But stem cell treatments for heart disease are still in their early stages. As it becomes obvious from my review of this topic, some patients who were part of clinical trials have already experienced positive results. Congestive heart failure or poor pump performance following a heart attack have improved following various stem cell procedures. In the next few years there likely will be a proliferation of treatment options for patients. Although some critics have pointed out a possibility of cancer developing as a side effect of stem cell treatment, no evidence is noticeable at this point.

May
20
2017

Prevention Of Telomere Shortening

Dr. Mark Rosenberg gave a talk on prevention of telomere shortening. This was presented at the 24th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine (Dec. 9-11, 2016) in Las Vegas that I attended. The detailed title was: “The Clinical Value of Telomere Testing”.

What are telomeres?

Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes. They are very important in the aging process. Prematurely shortened telomeres are linked closely to all major diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and more. Telomeres are also a measure of the aging process. Aging occurs due to a decrease of the number of cells in organs and/or because of a lack of functioning of these organs. Telomeres get shortened every time a cell divides. But when the telomeres are used up, there comes a time when cells can no longer divide. These cells become senescent cells or they enter apoptosis (programmed cell death).

The senescent cells can become a problem when they get transformed into cancer cells and their telomeres lengthen again. These cancer cells divide rapidly and this can become the reason why cancer patients to die.

What is the significance of telomeres?

Telomere dysfunction is the first sign that the telomeres are getting shorter in a person compared to the average telomere length in a comparable age group. This is not only important for aging, but also has clinical implications. The shorter telomeres are, the higher the risk for cardiovascular disease. Telomere length also provides prognostic information about the mortality risk (risk of dying) with type 2 diabetes and for many cancers. Many physicians incorporate a telomere blood test into periodic health checks, if the patient can afford it.

Interventions that help telomere length

Here are a number of things we can do to lengthen our telomeres.

  1. Rosenberg mentioned that the strongest effect on telomere lengthening comes from caloric restriction and weight loss. 80 years ago they showed at the Cornell University that rats put on calorie restriction had a 30% increase in their mean and maximum lifespan. Many research papers have confirmed that the same is true in man and that the common denominator is telomere lengthening.
  2. Next are regular physical activity, meditation, reduction of alcohol consumption and stopping to smoke.
  3. Taking antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids regularly will also lengthen telomeres.
  4. Improving one’s dietary pattern by adopting a Mediterranean type diet that contains cold-pressed, virgin olive oil.
  5. Telomerase activators. Here is some background on the TA-65 telomerase activator, which is based on Chinese medicine. A one year trial was completed with 250 units and 1000 units of TA-65 per day. The lower dose (250 units) showed effective telomere lengthening, while the placebo dose did not. The 1000 unit dose did not show statistical significance.

Should you wish to take TA-65, only take 250 units per day, not more.

Cancer and telomeres

There is a strong correlation between cancer and telomere shortening. When cells are at the brink of dying toward the end of their life cycle the telomeres get shorter and shorter. This is the point where the cells can turn malignant. Certain genetic abnormalities help the malignant transformation, like 11q or 17q deletions or a p53-dependent apoptosis response. Once cancer cells have established themselves they activate telomerase in 85% of cases. In the remaining 15% of cancer cases telomeres are activated through telomerase-independent mechanisms. Here are a few examples.

CLL

CLL stands for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. It is a disease of the aging population. At age 90 people’s bone marrow cells have a telomere length of only 50% of the length at birth. This is the reason that in older age CLL is more common. Researchers observed a population segment and found that the shorter telomeres were, the poorer the overall prognosis and overall survival for CLL was.

Lung cancer

Researchers examined the telomerase activity in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. When telomerase activity was present, the 5-year survival was only 55%. When telomerase activity was absent, the prognosis was 90% survival after 5 years.

Prostate cancer

  1. Prostate cancer risk correlated with telomere shortening in stromal cells. Men with shorter telomere length in stromal cells had a 266% higher risk of death compared to men with normal telomere length.
  2. Another study took blood samples and determined the telomere length in lymphocytes (the immune cells). Those men who came down with prostate cancer within a year after they had their blood sample, had short telomeres. The risk for prostate cancer in these patients was 355% higher than in the prostate cancer negative controls.

Yet another study looked at surgical tissue samples from 596 men that

Underwent surgery for clinically localized prostate cancer. Patients whose samples showed variable telomere lengths in prostate cancer cells and shorter telomeres compared to prostate samples with less variable telomere length and longer telomeres had a much poorer prognosis. They had 8-times the risk to progress to lethal prostate cancer. And they had 14-times the risk of dying from their prostate cancer.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer is diverse and consists of cases whose origins are genetic (BRCA1 and BRCA2), but there are also cases where the cancer is local or has a higher stage. In families with mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 telomeres are significantly shorter than in spontaneous breast cancer. Increased telomerase activity in breast cancer cases is directly related to how invasive and aggressive the breast cancer is.

  1. In one study researchers analyzed blood leukocytes in 52 patients with breast cancer for telomere length  versus 47 control patients. Average telomere length was significantly shorter in patients with a more advanced stage of breast cancer than in early breast cancer. Mutated HER patients had the shortest telomeres. It follows from this that checking for the HER status and blood telomere testing adds to the knowledge of potential cancer development and prognosis.
  2. In patients with with larger breast tumors, more lymph node metastases and more vascular invasion the researchers found short telomere length of the cancer cells.
  3. More aggressive breast cancer cells have higher telomerase activity. More than 90% of triple negative breast cancers have short telomeres.

CNS disorders and telomeres

Dr. Rosenberg presented evidence for a correlation between shorter telomeres and the development of dementia. But dementias with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer’s disease are also linked to short leukocyte telomeres. The length of blood telomeres predicts how well stroke patients will do and how people with depression will respond to antidepressants.

Cardiovascular disease and telomeres

The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system controls our blood pressure and keeps it constant. When this system is not stable, our blood pressure shoots up and causes cardiovascular disease. This is tough for the heart, as it has to pump harder against a higher-pressure gradient. A study of 1203 individuals was examining the connection between leukocyte telomere length and renin, aldosterone and angiotensin II activity. It concluded that oxidative stress and inflammatory responses affect the telomere length of leukocytes and that the more stress there is in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, the more cardiovascular disease develops. The conclusion of the study was that the overall cardiovascular stress leads to shortening of leukocyte telomeres.

Prevention Of Telomere Shortening

Prevention Of Telomere Shortening

Conclusion

Telomere length testing from a simple blood test will become a more important test in the future as hopefully the cost comes down (currently about 300$). It can predict the general aging status by comparing a single case to the general telomere length of the public. But it can also predict the cancer risk, risk for mental disease and cognitive deficits (Alzheimer’s disease). In addition your cardiovascular status correlated globally with this test. What are the options for the patient, if the test comes back with short telomeres?

It allows you to change your lifestyle and adopt a healthy diet. You can exercise regularly, take antioxidants and meditate. There are even telomerase activators that are gradually becoming more known. They lengthen the telomeres. The cost of telomerase activators will likely still be a problem for some time. All in all telomere length tests are here to stay, but healthy lifestyle choices are the only tool for effective intervention at this point. This is good news: healthy lifestyle choices like non-smoking, exercise and avoiding non-processed foods are either free or have a reasonable price tag. Telomerase activators are big business and at this point not really affordable!

May
13
2017

Results Of Insomnia Studies

Results of insomnia studies are focusing on all angles of insomnia. We know for some time that the circadian rhythm is linked to deep REM sleep, which we only reach about 2 hours into our nightly sleep. There are several reasons why our normal sleep pattern can get disrupted.

1. Night owls have a CRY1 mutation

A recent publication on March 27, 2017 has detected a mutation of the human circadian clock called CRY1. This is a dominant gene that is responsible for delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD). People with this genetic feature tend to go to sleep 2 hours later than the average person every day.

It occurs between 0.2% and 10% in the general population and is inherited by the autosomal dominant mode.

This gene is responsible for the phenomenon of persons being “night owls”.

2. Sleep deprivation in nursing homes

Another publication has zeroed in to what happens in the frail elderly who live in nursing homes.

Here is what sleep researchers have found out about nursing homes.

  • Older people also need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, not less as previously thought.
  • Let people sleep at night, and give them undisturbed sleep. The practice of waking them up every 2 hours is unnecessary and undermines a restful sleep with normal amounts of REM sleep.
  • The color of light matters: Blue/purple light coming from TVs, iPod’s, laptops or cell phones stimulates serotonin production that wakes you up. In contrast to this orange/red light stimulates melatonin production that facilitates sleep. A nursing home owner, Guildermann said: “We have made it darker at night, and what light they do have is orange/amber/red light, and we are having phenomenal results.”
  • Sleep, exercise and nutrition are the biggest components of health.

3. Night workers

One of the news stories in 2016 was about health risks of night shifts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2000 that 15 million workers (16.8 % of the working population) were doing alternative shifts (night shift work mixed with daytime shifts). In 2016 they reported 14.8% were working alternate shifts. Among blacks, Asians and Latino Americans the percentage of working alternative shifts was higher, namely 20.8%, 15.7% and 16%, respectively.

Effect of shift work on your diurnal hormone rhythm

Shift work is more common in certain industries, such as protective services like the police force, food services, health services and transportation.

Your body rewards you, when you sleep 7 to 8 hours during the night, but it will penalize you severely, if you turn it upside down. The reason is the diurnal hormone rhythm that we all have built in. Sleep is regulated by melatonin during the night, which is released by the pineal gland (on the base of the skull). Daytime wakefulness is regulated by the stress hormone cortisol from the adrenal glands. These two hormones inhibit each other, cortisol inhibits melatonin and melatonin inhibits cortisol. All the other hormones are also regulated according to the diurnal rhythm: testosterone, for instance is highest in the morning, human growth hormone is highest between midnight and 3 AM.

Studies about the effects of shift work

There are examples of what happens when you do shift work for several years:

  1. A) A Swedish study found that white-collar shift workers had a 260% higher mortality compared to a control group of daytime white collar workers: Shift work and mortality.
  2. B) A study compared night workers in the age group of 45 to 54 with daytime workers and found a 147% higher mortality rate in the night shift workers: Shift Workers’ Mortality Scrutinized. Shift workers work at night and sleep during the day. This can be done, but it is against the physiology of your body, as I explained above. Remember that melatonin does not only regulate your sleep, it also is one of the main stimulant hormones of the immune system. If you manipulate your diurnal hormone rhythm by staying awake during the night and sleeping during the day, you pay the price by an increased risk of mortality (increased risk of death). I think this is not worth it!

4. What to do when you cannot sleep?

The first step is to take 3mg to 5mg of melatonin at bedtime. It should be taken between 10PM and 11PM. It takes 20 to 30 minutes for melatonin to take effect. If you do not fall asleep within that time frame you are likely thinking too much! Relaxation before going to sleep should be part of your evening ritual. It can happen that we experience demanding, stressful days, and despite all better effort, it is difficult to be entirely relaxed. After demanding days like that I would recommend taking 1 or 2 capsules of valerian (500 mg strength) from the health food store. This combined with the melatonin should help in more than 80%-90% of insomnia cases.

Medical tests and sleep studies

If you cannot sleep, see your physician. Sleep studies may be required or you may have problems of the thyroid (hypo- or hyperthyroidism), which may need to be checked. Other medical problems including depression have to be checked out as well. Melatonin and valerian are safe. Other sleeping pills have multiple side effects including memory problems the next day or the feeling of a mild hangover.

5. Telomeres and insomnia

Some people have no problem disciplining themselves to go to sleep between 10PM and 11 PM, which seems to be the window of opportunity to catch a good night’s sleep. Others are so used to do their late night activities (reading, watching TV, being online, going to the pub etc.) that they finally drop into bed at 1 or 2 AM. People need 7 to 8 hours of good sleep; even hard-core party goers need to get that much sleep. Nature does not make exceptions! When you go to bed only at 1AM or 2AM, it is difficult to get enough sleep.

Healthy telomeres with healthy sleep pattern

It is true that you can suffer multiple health problems, as all of your hormones depend on the resetting during your deepest sleep between 2AM and 4AM triggered by the nighttime melatonin response. Even your telomeres, the caps of chromosomes in every cell get shortened from too much stress and too little sleep. Shortened telomeres mean a shortened life span. The reason for this is that people with shortened telomeres develop heart attacks, strokes and cancer. This is what shortens the life span. How do we avoid this risk? Go back to healthy sleep habits. As mentioned above it is best to start going to sleep between 10 PM and 11 PM and sleep for 7 to 8 hours.

6. Electronics in the bedroom

There is new research showing that electronics in the bedroom can interfere with a normal sleep pattern. Dr. Ben Carter is the lead author and a senior lecturer in biostatistics at King’s College London. He completed a study involving 125,198 children with an average age of 14½ years. There were about equal amounts of males and females. Both sexes had the same problem. Allowing the use of electronic media interfered with their sleep time. What electronic devices are we talking about? Watching TV, using the computer, the cell phone, tablets and computer games. The study was originally published at JAMA Pediatrics.

The blue/purple light of the TV screen or a computer screen stimulates the brain to produce serotonin. This undermines the melatonin production and as a result the person finds it extremely difficult to fall asleep.

What contributes to better sleep habits

Here is a list that contributes to better sleep habits and better sleep quality:

Sleep friendly environment in the bedroom

Ensure that the bedroom is dark, soundproof, and comfortable with the room temperature being not too warm. It is important to develop a “sleep hygiene”. This means going to sleep around the same time each night, to have some down time of 1 hour or so before going to bed and getting up after the average time of sleep (for most people between 7 to 9 hours). Sleeping in is not a solution, and an alarm clock will also help to develop a sleep routine.

Avoid stimulating drinks, drugs and nicotine

You need to avoid caffeine drinks, alcohol, nicotine and recreational drugs. Smokers should butt out no later than 7PM, as nicotine is a stimulant.

Adopt a regular exercise program

Getting into a regular exercise program, either at home or at a gym is beneficial.

No heavy meal at night

Avoid a heavy meal late at night. A light snack including some warm milk would be OK.

No computer in the bedroom

It is not a sensible idea to use the bedroom as an office, reading place or media center. It stimulates by cortisol production, which keeps us awake. The bedroom is a place of rest and should be comfortable and relaxing.

What to do when waking up at night

Some sleepers wake up at night, and they are wide-awake! Leaving the bedroom and relaxing in the living room for a while can help. It goes without saying that playing video games will not help! An alternative is to take 3 mg of melatonin, which will helps to fall asleep faster, but melatonin will wear off after about 4 hours.

Self-hypnosis recording

A self-hypnosis recording is a useful adjunct to a sleep routine. Listening to it before going to sleep helps to focus on relaxation and to stop ruminating about the day and its events. Keep the volume low.

Results Of Insomnia Studies

Results Of Insomnia Studies

Conclusion

Recent results of insomnia studies have reconfirmed that we need our regular sleep to maintain our health. We have seen that some nursing homes have a practice of waking the client up every 2 hours. Nursing homes must abandoned this as it interferes with the restorative deep REM sleep. In turn this will interfere with hormone restoration overnight.

Children and adolescents must limit their time in front of the TV, iPhones and computer screens. The blue light has the frequency that over stimulates the brain and interferes with melatonin production. Some people work overnight as shift workers or party until the wee hours in the morning. This causes your telomeres in your body cells to shorten. As people restore their sleeping pattern to normal, the telomeres length will remain stable.

Important to restore normal sleep pattern

Even people who are night owls due to an inborn CRY1 gene that is responsible for delayed sleep phase disorder can normalize their sleep pattern by following a strict sleep hygiene. As people get older they lose the ability to make melatonin, but they can counter this by taking melatonin tablets at bedtime.

Remember what I said earlier: Sleep, regular exercise and good nutrition are the biggest components of health.

Jan
22
2015

Life Expectancy Is Influenced By Lifestyle

The previous three blogs have dealt with telomeres, stem cells and lifestyle as a theme. In this blog you find summaries from three talks at the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine In Las Vegas (Dec. 10-14, 2014) that dealt with telomere length and how nutrition can positively influence what our genes express, which ultimately determines how long we live. This is at the center of anti-aging medicine and this is why I dealt with it in some detail.

1) Dr. Theodore Piliszek: “Personalized Genetics: Applying Genomics to General Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Modification”

The individual’s metabolism is different from one person to the next. As a result of this, one needs to match the diet one recommends for a patient to that person’s genetic make-up.

The Mediterranean diet has 20% protein, 35% fat, 45% carbs; here is the composition of other diets:

Low carb diet: 30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbs

Low fat diet: 20-25% protein, 20-25% fat, 50-55% carbs

Balanced diet: 20% protein, 25% fat, 55% carbs

Snack only on low caloric foods; otherwise leptins react and make you hungry. A sweet tooth predisposes you to develop diabetes. Lactose intolerance is more common than previously thought. 30% of type II diabetics presently will develop dementia and Alzheimer’s is now often referred to as type III diabetes. With sugar being present in so many processed foods, this figure will likely jump to 60% in the future!

Methylation is very important for your well being. Here is a quick link to explain methylation in simple terms without getting too much into biochemical nomenclature. Having said this, vitamin B2, B6, B12 are needed for this biochemical process, SAMe is also a supplement that supports methylation.

If you do not have a longevity gene, you need to watch that you stick to organic food, stay active, may be add methylated folate and vitamin B12. Each patient should get a supplement list that is customized.

The health practitioner should ask the patient to keep a food diary for 1 week, which gives the doctor the nutritional profile including what the patient consumes in the way of drinks. Check vitamin D3 blood levels! Adequate levels of vitamin D3 are necessary for the musculoskeletal system and the immune system. Endurance training is important up to age 45. Beyond that age emphasis should be on isometric exercises (weight lifting).

Dr. Piliszek stated that the life expectancy in the US is falling behind many other countries. I did a quick Google check regarding life expectancy around the world as follows: US: 78.7 years; Canada: 81.2 years; France: 82.7, Italy: 82.9; Spain: 82.3; Portugal 80.37; Sweden: 81.7; Denmark: 80.05; Norway: 81.45; Germany: 80.89; Poland 76.8; Russia: 70.56. Seeing that the conference took place in the US, there is a lot of room for the US to improve habits with regard to food intake.

Dr. Piliszek stated that the normal range for hemoglobin A1C is skewed in the medical literature and the recommendations are too high; it should be: 3.8 to 4.9 %. This is very important to know for diabetics and any caregiver who looks after diabetes patients, because if you are satisfied with a hemoglobin A1C of 6.0 as still being “normal”, the diabetic patient dies prematurely of a heart attack or a stroke. Contrary to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) recommendation it is important to take note: the new normal range for hemoglobin A1C is 3.8 to 4.9%! A patient whose hemoglobin A1C is 5.5 has diabetes and needs to be treated aggressively to prevent complications associated with diabetes.

2) George Rozakis, MD: “Nutrigenomics”

This talk focused on how one could use nutrition to heal when genetic errors are present in the metabolism. This field is called “nutrigenomics”. It deals with using diet modifications and nutrients to change gene expression. Another way to express this is that with proper epigenetic changes by using the right nutrients for a person with an inherited weakness, using the right nutrients for a person with an inherited weakness can extend life. At the same time you need to avoid nutrients that would harm a person with a certain genetic weakness.

We all have inherited some minor or not so minor genetic errors in the genetic code. We are made up of 50 trillion cells with 30,000 genes and 23 pairs of chromosomes, so there are bound to be a few minor genetic code errors that make us more or less susceptible to develop disease, particularly when our telomeres are shortening with age making self-repair of many of our aging cells difficult, if not impossible.

Genes program our cells to run biochemical reactions within the cells. Correct methylation pathways are important for normal cell function. However, if there is a methylation defect, abnormalities set in and homocysteine accumulates.

With various enzyme defects you need to use appropriate supplements to normalize the metabolic defect. Vitamin B2, B6 and B12 supplementation will often stabilize methylation defects and homocysteine levels return to normal. This is important as severe, familial cardiovascular disease can be postponed this way by several years or more.

In a similar vein Dr. Rozakis mentioned that 92% of migraine sufferers have a defective methylation pathway involving histamine overproduction and they can be helped with a histamine-restricted diet.

Autism, ADHD (hyperactivity) and learning disabilities are other diseases where methylation pathway defects are present. Every patient with autism should be checked for methylation pathway defects, and appropriate supplements and diet restrictions can help in normalizing the child’s metabolic defects. DAN physicians (“defeat autism now”) are well versed in this and should be consulted.

S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) defects are another type of methylation defect, which is important in certain liver, colon and gastric cancers.

Dr. Rozakis went on to say that methylation defects lead to disbalances between T and B cells of the immune system and are important in autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Methylation defects can also cause autoimmune thyroiditis and type 1 diabetes. They can also cause cardiac disease by raising homocysteine levels, which causes dysfunction of the lining of arteries and premature heart attacks.

Epigenetic factors through global methylation defects from vitamin B2, B6 and B12 deficiency cause many different cancers. Hypomethylation is the most common DNA defect of cancer cells.

Mental illness is another area where epigenetic factors play an important role. Depression that responds only partially or not at all to SSRI’s (antidepressants) often responds to L-methylfolate, a simple supplement from the health food store as a supplement. Similar epigenetic approaches can be used to treat psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.

With skin diseases it has come to light that atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, scleroderma and vitiligo are related to methylation.

When we age, certain hormones are gradually missing, which leads to menopause and andropause. This leads to impaired cell function, elevated cholesterol, arthritis, constipation, depression, low sex drive, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome and fatigue. Replace the missing hormones with bioidentical ones and symptoms normalize.

Life Expectancy Is Influenced By Lifestyle

Life Expectancy Is Influenced By Lifestyle

3) Dr. Al Sears: “Telo-Nutritioneering: The latest generation of telomere modulators”.

Shortened telomeres are causing cells to behave like old cells. In the lab we can lengthen telomeres. Telomerase activated animals regrew their brains!! In the human situation the goal is to find ways to preserve the length of our telomeres in all our key organs. Alternatively this can also be reached by inhibiting the breakdown of the enzyme telomerase, which will lead to a lengthening of telomeres. In his research Dr. Sears found at least 123 nutrients, vitamins and natural compounds that will elongate telomeres, often by stimulating telomerase.

Testing for critically short telomeres (HT Q-FISH method) is clinically more important than using average telomere length tests. Dr. Sears said when a patient has been shown to have short telomeres and this patient is started on telomerase stimulating supplements, telomere lengthening can be documented within one month of starting the supplementation. Acetyl-L-carnitine and resveratrol are two substances that reliably elongate telomeres.

Vitamin C will significantly delay shortening of telomeres, which translates into delayed aging. In addition vitamin C has recently been shown to stimulate telomerase activity in certain stem cells. There is an herb, called Silymarin extract, which was found to increase telomerase activity threefold. N-acetyl cysteine is a building block for glutathione, a powerful ant-oxidant. In addition it has been shown to turn on the human telomerase gene. Other telomerase stimulators are green tea extract, ginkgo biloba, gamma tocotrienol (one of the components of the vitamin E group), vitamin D3 and folic acid.

Dr. Sears suggested that we should take the following supplements and vitamins for “telo-nutritioneering” (alphabetically arranged) with recommended dosages:

Acetyl L-carnitine: 1,000 mg daily; alpha tocopherol: 400 IU daily; folic acid: 2 mg to 5 mg daily; gamma tocotrienol: 20 mg minimum daily; ginkgo biloba: 40 mg to 80 mg daily (cycle every 4 to 6 weeks); green tea (EGCG): 50 mg daily; L-arginine: 500 mg to 1,000 mg daily; N-acetyl cysteine: 1,800 mg to 2,400 mg daily; resveratrol: 10 mg to 20 mg daily; silymarin: 200mg twice daily; vitamin C: 540 mg minimum daily; and vitamin D3: 2,000 IU daily.

Even if you are only taking 5 or 6 of these twelve telomerase boosters daily, you are doing well, particularly if you are also watching your lifestyle (regular exercise, not smoking, cutting out excessive alcohol intake and avoiding sugar).

Conclusion

This is only the beginning of rethinking epigenetic treatment approaches. For too long organized medicine has used a “cookie-cutter” approach of diagnosing and treating diseases. Now we are realizing that changes in hormones and shortening of telomeres with aging can cause inflammation and premature deaths. The future of medicine, which has already started, uses nutritional changes, vitamins and supplements, bioidentical hormone replacements and exercise to stabilize cell metabolism and postpone age-related diseases.

Jan
16
2015

Telomere Length A Telltale Sign Of Aging

Dr. Sandy Chang gave a talk at the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas Dec. 10-14, 2014 entitled “Telomere measurement as a diagnostic Test in cardiovascular and Age-related disease”, but a shorter title would be “telomere length a telltale sign of aging” (my choosing).

Dr. Chang pointed out that it is now well established that telomere length is directly related to health. The shorter the telomeres are the higher the probability to get the following: early menopause, infertility, diabetes, wrinkles, arthritis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, cancer, stress and a lack of stem cells. In this BMJ study from 2014 it was shown on a large population basis that shorter white blood cell telomeres lead to a higher risk of coronary heart disease causing heart attacks. Decreased telomere length is also associated with the development of breast cancer, cancer of the ovary and uterus, cancer of the prostate and skin cancer.

Because of these connections it makes sense to determine a person’s telomere length. If it is short, do check-ups more often to detect any cancer early when it can still be treated.

Telomere length measurements are now done in many infertility clinics as short telomeres both in the male and female is associated with infertility.

The newest finding and perhaps the most important is that a healthy lifestyle, vitamins and supplements can elongate telomeres while a poor lifestyle leads to shortening of telomeres.

Here are the factors that lead to shortening of telomeres:

– Chronic stress

– Poor diet and nutritional habits

– Chronic inflammatory diseases

– Metabolic disorders

– Lack of consistent exercise/sedentary lifestyle

– Obesity, high BMI and body fat

– Smoking

– Over consumption of alcohol

– Lack of sleep / insomnia

When short telomeres are detected, it is important for the physician to look at lifestyle changes to protect telomeres from decreasing their length even further. This has the potential of preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s when it comes to brain health. It can prevent osteoporosis and metabolic diseases (diabetes, metabolic syndrome). Telomerase is the buzzword today, which is an enzyme that all of our cells have. The purpose why we have telomerase in our cells seems to be helping us build up and repair telomeres. Any substance that preserves telomerase or prevents the breakdown of telomerase will prevent shortening of telomeres and will also prevent the above-mentioned diseases.

These supplements lead to lengthening of telomeres:

-Vitamin C and E

-Omega-3 and polyphenols

-Vitamin A and D3

-All of these help controlling oxidative stress, reduce DNA damage, reduce inflammation and build up telomere length.

-A good diet and nutrition (Mediterranean type diet) will prevent telomere shortening as well and also lead to telomere lengthening.

-T-65, an extract from astragalus has been shown in vitro to lengthen telomeres, but there is no publication yet about in vivo effects in humans.

-Resveratrol is useful to prevent shortening of telomeres as well.

-Exercise also is a simple means to prevent telomere shortening.

Telomere Length A Telltale Sign Of Aging

Telomere Length A Telltale Sign Of Aging

Another talk on telomeres was given by Dr. Harvey Bartnof with the title “Telomere Shortening and Modulation: Case Studies From The Clinic”.

This talk was a comprehensive review of what is known about telomeres, about the fact that many diseases are due to telomere shortening, about animal experiments, ways of how to lengthen telomeres and finally some data on human studies with regard to telomere lengthening.

In the following I will briefly review all of these areas that were discussed. Some of this material overlaps with Dr. Chang’s lecture.

What produces telomere shortening? Dr. Bartnof showed 4 slides that listed all of the conditions and diseases that are associated with telomere shortening. Telomere shortening is associated with twice the risk to die from a heart attack when compared to people with normal telomeres.

a) Known genetic conditions in humans associated with telomere shortening

There are three known genetic conditions due to telomere shortening: A premature aging syndrome, called dyskeratosis congenitalis; patients with this condition die prematurely from cancer, or from bone marrow failure.

People with Werner syndrome who have a genetic telomere loss have a mean life expectancy of only 54 years.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is another genetic condition with shortened telomeres due to mutations.

b) Telomere shortening associated with these health conditions

Professor Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD who is one of the three researchers who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for their work on telomeres in 2009 stated the following: “Telomere shortness is associated with just about all the major diseases of aging… from cardiovascular disease, death from cardiovascular disease, risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, diabetes risks such as insulin resistance, vascular dementia, to osteoarthritis.”

An enormous amount of clinical investigations have been done since in cohort groups like people with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and cancer.

There is natural shortening of telomeres due to the aging process. When we compare telomere length of body cells of a 20-year old and call this 100%, the telomeres of a 100-year old person are on average only 40%. A study from the Karolinska Institute found in a group of matching twins where one twin had shortened telomeres, this twin had a 2.8 times greater risk of death than the twin with normal telomere length.

However, as already mentioned a number of other factors can lead to shorter telomeres like chronic stress in workers who look after Alzheimer patients, being of the Caucasian race (compared to African-American), having had less education, chronic unemployment, depression, pessimism, single people versus married people, phobic anxiety in women and hostility in men, poor sleep and too little sleep, migraine headaches in women, low physical activity, smoking cigarettes and alcohol consumption. The list does not stop here. Other conditions are associated with telomere shortening like heroin abuse, exposure to smog, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and lead, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cirrhosis of the liver, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, chronic kidney disease and disability in the elderly.

c) Effects of medications on telomere length

Antidepressants used against depression have a telomere lengthening effect, but NSAID’s, aspirin and interferon-alpha shorten telomeres. Other telomere shortening effects come from cancer chemotherapy.

d) Telomerase activation elongates telomeres

Successful experiments in various mouse strains showed that special strains that were telomerase deficient, could be reconstituted to normal by reinserting telomerase: atrophied organs regrew back to normal size and function. In humans it was shown that increased physical activity elongated telomeres, so did vitamin C, E and vitamin D3 supplementation, resveratrol, a Mediterranean diet, marine omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, higher fiber intake, bioidentical estrogen in women and testosterone in men, relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation. The Astragalus-derived telomerase activator TA-65 has been shown in animal experiments to elongate telomeres. The human data about TA-65 is still spotty or not available (it is also very expensive and may be unnecessary given the fact that so many other agents are known to lengthen telomeres).

e) Human data on telomere lengthening

Much can be achieved by changing one’s lifestyle: cut out toxins like cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse. Get involved in a regular exercise program, which has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol and to elongate telomeres. Adopt a Mediterranean type diet including olive oil; take vitamin E, D, C and supplements with resveratrol and murine omega-3 fatty acids, all of which elongate telomeres. Get enough sleep (7 to 8 hours per night) and do yoga and meditation. Avoid distress and tone down your stress level to eustress (normal stress level associated with every day living). An older person should use bioidentical hormones to replace missing hormones. All of this taken together will create a milieu in your body where telomeres get elongated and you live longer without disease. Several clinical conditions were mentioned where baseline telomere length was assessed initially and was found to be too short; simple lifestyle changes were then initiated, which were able to improve telomere length and treat these diseases successfully. In addition TA-65 (also termed T-65) was given in some of these cases, but in a subsequent discussion Dr. Bartnof admitted that he could not comment on how effective TA-65 by itself was as it was only one component of many other effective telomerase stimulators given. Till further research is out on this substance, it may be just very costly without spectacular benefits on its own.

Conclusion

I gave a summary of the talks by Dr. Chang and Dr. Bartnof regarding telomeres, but these were not the only talks about telomeres, although quite representative for the others. Both speakers pointed out how powerful lifestyle is for our body functions as this is what lengthens our telomeres and allows us to live longer, disease-free lives. Stem cells also have telomeres, but they are on average longer than the rest of the body cells (called somatic dells). An improved lifestyle will keep our stem cells in good shape, so they are there when needed to replace aging somatic cells.

The new logic of a healthy lifestyle is:

A healthy lifestyle causes healthy telomeres of somatic cells and of stem cells; this causes health until a ripe old age. In the next few weeks I will blog about more topics from the 22nd Anti-Aging Conference in Las Vegas. Stay tuned.

Jan
04
2015

Lifestyle Has Profound Changes On Our System

Dr. David Katz delivered a keynote address where he said that lifestyle has profound changes on our system. This took place at the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas Dec. 10-14, 2014. His talk was entitled “Integrative Medicine: A Bridge Over Healthcare’s Troubled Waters”.

He started the 1 hour talk with showing a slide of six blind men and the elephant. The conclusion was that each of the blind men saw only one aspect of the elephant, but no one saw the true elephant. With healthcare it is a bit like that.

Causes of death

Dr. McGinnis et al. in 1993 published the “Actual causes of death in the United States”.

Ten factors were responsible for chronic disease, but the first three things on McGinnis list were the most important ones: tobacco use, diet and lack of exercise.

Mokdad in 2004 noted that the revised list of “Actual causes of death in the United States”: tobacco was no longer number one.

Effect of healthy lifestyle

Ford et al. in 2009 stated: “Healthy living is the best revenge…Nutrition-Potsdam study

Although there is no magic pill for reducing disease, lifestyle is exactly “the magic pill” that reduces mortality by almost 80%.

Fastforward to 2014: Akkeson et al. came to the same conclusion when examining what would be able to prevent heart attacks. They stated that LIFESTYLE is what matters.

We live in the “epigenetic age: dinner is destiny!” With this Dr. Katz meant to say that our genes get switched on and off depending on what we put into our mouths. This determines whether we live shorter or longer lives.

He went on to say: “Feet (exercise), forks (diet), fingers (cigarettes) are what matters.” Oncogenes can get turned off in prostate cancer with the help of exercise, the right food intake and quitting to smoke.

Food addiction and obesity

Dr. Katz mentioned the book by Michael Moss “Salt, sugar, fat”, which made it to the cover story of Time Magazine in 2013. In it is described how the food industry employs PhD’s to include agents in processed foods to ensure that consumers get addicted to the food products. Food addiction leads to obesity; the CDC statistics show that it is effective! We have put up with this for far too long. There are differences of obesity rates between countries, here Canadian and US statistics shown.

Dr. Katz asked the audience to raise up their hands, if they had a person close to them die of cancer, a heart attack or a stroke. Almost all of the more than 500 participants in the Hall raised their hands.

Lifestyle Has Profound Changes On Our System

Lifestyle Has Profound Changes On Our System

Children education programs

So what is the ONE thing that can fix everything? He answered this rhetoric question by saying that there is no one thing that fixes everything. But we can start at a young age by educating our children. Dr. Katz has started a program for school kids called “ABC for fitness for kids” to prevent obesity. The program teaches children healthful food choices. You can find many of these on YouTube (Dr. Katz:“kids speak YouTube”). Dr. Katz commented that a website, NuVal uses a nutritional value rating system to monitor food quality and manufacturers have improved the content of their products because the composition of their products were displayed on that website. We need to be vigilant and read labels.

Change one thing at a time

But we can only change one thing at a time, like we walk one step at a time on a spiral staircase to get to the next floor. We ask ourselves about our lifestyle: what is the first thing to fix? We fix this point (like exercise more), then we fix the second (adopt a Mediterranean diet), the third (take specific vitamins and supplements) and so on; in other words we approach one thing at a time. Integrative medicine, the fusion of conventional and non-conventional medicine, can help to solve problems one step at a time.

Effect of CoQ10

Despite a bias in the North American medical literature saying that CoQ10 was “useless”, the European Heart Journal reported in 2013 that CoQ10 decreases all-cause-mortality in patients with heart disease. Here is a link to a more recent article (Dec. 2014) regarding a two year trial with congestive heart failure patients taking only 100 mg of CoQ-10 three times daily that found that all-cause-mortality was reduced significantly.

Blue zones

There is a new wave going around the United States: It is the idea to copy the lifestyle of the blue zones around the world. Blue zones are areas in the world where the life expectancy is 100 years or more. This link leads you to a information about blue zones that is worth watching.

It explains how Blue Zones are being established all around America. Dr. Katz explained that lifestyle is the medicine and the environment is the spoon. In Blue Zones the environment is such that people who live long, healthy lives influence you positively. They spoon it to you non-verbally by their example. Organic vegetables in stores are cheaper in Blue Zones, so it is easier to eat more of them; people socialize more with each other, they exercise more and dance. This is what people do who live longer than 100 years. In other words, you change the culture, you change your lifestyle, you exercise more, you stop smoking, you eat healthy and you live longer.

You must decide on which pathway to go

Dr. Katz ended his lecture with the image of you walking along and coming to a fork. To go further you must decide to go on the pathway to your right or on the pathway to the left. You turn on the right pathway by deciding to adopt the principles of the Blue Zones; you make the decision to want to turn older than 100 years and keep your vitality until it is time for you to pass on. In the meantime you enjoy every day, you are not disabled and your mind and body stay healthy. The other pathway was the one that the majority of the industrialized Western nations has taken in the last few decades. Which path will it be that you decide to take?

Conclusion

At the conference Dr Katz and a number of other speakers pointed out how powerful lifestyle is for our body functions. Other speakers stressed the importance of telomeres, the caps of the chromosomes, which comprise the end of the double stranded DNA. With every cell division our telomeres shorten. Stem cells also have telomeres, but they are on average longer than the somatic dells. It probably is like this to be able for stem cells to replace the aging somatic cells.

There is a new logic of a healthy lifestyle is. It says that a healthy lifestyle causes healthy telomeres of somatic cells and of stem cells. This causes health until a ripe old age. I will be blogging about some of the other key talks of the conference in the near future to clarify this point further.

Jul
02
2014

Focus On Health Rather Than Disease

Not too long ago I came across a blog that summarized the “18 Biggest Problems with Modern Medicine”. Although this is a useful list, it occurred to me that these problems could be compressed into about 9 underlying themes. Below I am describing the same type of problems regarding modern medicine in a somewhat abbreviated fashion.

Points 1 to 4 below cover points 1 to 9 of the “18 Biggest Problems with Modern Medicine”:

1. The patient is seen as a complicated machine with parts that could break down. When there is a breakdown of the machinery, symptoms develop, which are quickly fixed with a patented medicine, but without really addressing the underlying problem. 

This type of approach soothes pain, but changes nothing for a chronic illness like MS. Nobody has all the answers to this complicated illness, but we know that it is an autoimmune disease. So it makes sense to avoid foods that could make the patient worse. This is exactly what Dr. Terry Wahls is describing in her YouTube video.

Also, vitamins and supplements for multiple sclerosis that support the immune system would be useful. Vitamin D3 in high doses, but monitoring blood levels by doing 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood tests from time to time would also be useful.

2. A holistic approach to building up health rather than fixing a clinical problem, which belongs to a disease, is not part of modern medicine.

In the past a stomach acid problem was treated with H-2 receptor antagonists like cimetidine or ranitidine. The newer proton pump inhibitors, like omeprazole were added and were supposed to be better in suppressing the acid formation. But they did nothing to cure the ulcer or gastritis problem. The problem often was that chronic stress allowed a bacterium, H.pylori to multiply in the stomach wall causing stomach acid and a burning sensation. This did respond to the antacid medications for a period of time, but came back when the medication was stopped. A simple over the counter licorice compound, called DGL or a simple mastic gum from the health food store can cure the helicobacter infection and cure your peptic ulcer disease without the need for the expensive patented H-2 receptor antagonists or proton pump inhibitors.

Focus On Health Rather Than Disease

Focus On Health Rather Than Disease

3. Everybody with the same disease is treated with the same medical treatment schedule, often agreed on by consensus expert panels. The body’s self-healing capacity or the placebo effect, which is an expression of the same natural healing response, is ignored.

Here is a study that was done on patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) on placebo pills. Placebo pills were 24% more effective than the control group who took no pills in controlling symptoms of IBS. Why not utilize this in conventional medicine?

4. The disease is treated, not the patient; numbers from lab tests count, not clinical signs of the physical examination. What used to be called the “art of medicine” has been abandoned.

The art of medicine is important to establish a rapport with the patient, but also to pick up silent features during the examination that may otherwise be overlooked.

Points 10 to 18 of the“18 Biggest Problems with Modern Medicine” are covered by points 5 to 9 below:

5. Diet, lifestyle, hormone changes (due to chronic stress and older age) are all ignored. If there are the hormone changes of menopause or andropause, only synthetic hormones are given and only for a limited time not exceeding 5 years. Bioidentical hormone replacement invokes butterfly feelings in the physician’s stomach and must therefore be rejected. It’s almost a knee-jerk response. The reason for that is the fear that bioidentical hormones would have the same devastating side effects as the synthetic hormones. However, this is a fallacy, as a young person with fully functioning natural hormones will not come down with nefarious side effects of strokes, heart attacks or cancer.

This link to Dr. Lee’s website explains why bioidentical hormones fit the hormone receptors better than the synthetic concoctions.

6. The thought that the body may have been exposed to toxins (like heavy metals, xenoestrogens etc.) from the environment that are taken up and stored in the body like a sponge and should be detoxified from time to time is foreign thinking to modern medicine except for a small group of dedicated physicians and naturopaths who offer various forms of chelation therapy.

The TART trial has shown that there was a 18% reduction of heart attack rate in the group that received 40 chelation therapy treatments. Chelation therapy can easily be combined with traditional treatment methods, but mostly his option is ignored.

7. Similarly the idea that supplements and vitamins would be essential to support the body in the fight against free radicals that form inside the body every day is not something every doctor will feel comfortable in recommending.

In Ref. 1 (chapter 8) I have cited evidence from a clinical trial that multivitamins elongate telomeres by 5.1% and add 9.8 years of productive life in those who take multivitamins over a long period of time versus those who do not.

8. In the health care industry we are still working in a hierarchical system where the doctor is on top and the patient is on a lower level and dependent. In the future medical system the doctor and the patient are equal partners who try to solve a health problem as a team.

The doctor may have more experience in diagnosing, prescribing and monitoring health problems, but the patient is the one who owns the problem and is encouraged to comply with the prescribed treatment and to report back to the doctor, if there are new symptoms that may lead the doctor to new insights resulting in improving the treatment plan.

9. Big Pharma influences doctors to prescribe their patented medicinesNew drugs and old drugs are sold like the latest invention against the dreaded disease XYZ (you can fill in whatever the diagnosis is). But none of these drugs is effective against a hormone disbalance, stress, a lack of sleep, lack of exercise or malnutrition. The patient’s co-operation is needed to work on these issues.

I have explained in Ref.1 that the metabolic syndrome, which is responsible for much of our modern diseases (diabetes, heart attacks, arthritis, strokes, cancers, Alzheimer’s disease) can be overcome by a combination of steps: paying attention to our food intake, cutting out sugar and high glycemic starchy foods and excessive fats. Regular exercise will help you to build up and maintain muscle mass and at the same time to melt in excessive fat. Yoga, self-hypnosis, meditation and prayer can remedy stress. Bioidentical hormones can replace any hormone deficiencies. Detoxification, vitamins and supplements complete this program, which allows you to successfully age without disabilities. All these steps taken together allow your body to recover and find a new balance where drugs are rarely needed.

Conclusion:

The reason Medicare is so expensive is that life style issues are not often addressed. By only treating symptoms the underlying causes of an illness are not removed. This means that the illness will not be cured. Take for instance heart attacks. If you want to go down the road from angina to heart attack to bypass surgery or stents, you will soon run out of options. The next level of curative medicine approach is a heart transplant after heart attack number 4 or 5. Comprehensive medicine would approach this differently by paying attention to what you eat and motivate you to cut out starchy foods, wheat, and sugar. This would address obesity, which is a problem in many Western countries. You would engage in regular physical exercise. Stress would be overcome in yoga classes or self-hypnosis sessions. Bioidentical hormones would replace your missing hormones based on saliva hormone tests or blood test samples. The heart muscle that has a lot of testosterone receptors would respond to this. As mentioned above a series of chelation treatments to remove heavy metals could also be offered in this combined, comprehensive heart attack prevention program with a reduction of 18% of heart attacks. This all is available now, but regrettably few people make use of it.

References:

1. Dr. Ray Schilling: “A Survivor’s Guide to Successful Aging“, Amazon.com, 2014

Last edited July 3, 2014