Telomeres & Living Longer (Originally published January 17th, 2011)

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La Casa Spa

Jane G. Goldberg, Ph.D.

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Musings from 20th Street
For almost a year now I have been participating in an experiment which has the possibility of extending my life. The process is a bit bizarre. I lie on a mat which is energized by a contraption that makes a fair amount of noise, but most bizarrely, it makes my battery operated alarm clock go off every few minutes. Also, light bulbs held in my hand start glowing, even though they are not plugged into an outlet. Sounds kind of sci-fi – and I guess in a sense, it is.

So, here is the back story:

In 1965, a geneticist named Leonard Hayflick discovered that most cells divide about 80 times, then slow down and die. He showed that there’s an “internal clock” that ticks off the rate of division among all the trillions of cells in the body. This clock appears to “tell” each cell when to start functioning less and less efficiently, and when to launch a “pre-programmed” death (called cellular apoptosis). It’s as though your whole lifespan is repeated in miniature at the cellular level.

Hayflick’s discovery had important implications for the field of anti-aging. His work suggested that there is a mechanism inside every cell that determines longevity. If, for instance, we could manipulate this internal clock, could we simultaneously slow down the aging process?  The answer was found 25 years later. The prestigious journal Nature published a groundbreaking article in 1990 that introduced the world to an explanation of the genetic mechanism that involves something called the “telomeres,”  the DNA “caps” at the end of chromosomes.

In 2009, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to three researchers for their investigation of telomeres and telomerase — a protein responsible for telomere length and maintenance. The research shows that longer telomeres and more telomerase activity indicates greater cellular longevity, and shorter telomeres and less telomerase activity is associated with cell death. On average, telomeres shrink 1% each year starting at birth. Thus, most individuals, with good health habits, are programmed genetically to die within 100 years. Unhealthy habits speed up telomere shrinkage.  It is, then, the length of one’s telomeres that determine how long we live and how healthy we are.

For several years, we at La Casa have been investigating various ways of increasing cellular strength, resiliency and longevity, including through the use of the Magnetic Pulse Therapy, as well as the Cem Tech. Now, it seems that this mat that I lay on 4-5 times a week does the same thing: it invigorates cells, and this cellular strengthening not only extends life, but also makes life healthier.

One mouse study on telomeres was conducted by cancer doctor Ronald DePinho of Harvard University, also published in Nature. Before treatment, the skin, brains, guts and other organs of the mice resembled those of an 80-year-old person. Within just two months of being given telomerase, the mice had grown so many new cells that they had almost completely rejuvenated. Remarkably, the male mice went from being infertile to fathering large litters. Dr DePinho said: ”In human terms, it would be like having a 40-year-old person who looked 80-plus and reversing the effects to the levels of a 50-year-old.” He continues on the dilemma of aging in today’s world: “By 2025 we are going to have 1.2billion people aged over 60, which is when you start to see cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. We are on a collision course for a significant amount of burden to society. This (study) is the first time that aging has been reversed.”

So, I imagine that many of you will want to know where I got my mat from. Before I give you that information, I want to give you a little background on the development of the technology behind the mat.  Although his name is little-known today, it is not possible to over-state the influence of Nikola Tesla on today’s world. He lived for almost a whole century, from the mid 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. His inventions, patents and theoretical work formed the basis of much of the technology we use today, from  modern alternating current (AC) electric power systems, wireless communication through the radio; aspects of television, X-rays, satellite transmission, and advance defense systems such as the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) were foreshadowed in Tesla’s work. His work helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution.

The Tesla coil is one of Nikola Tesla’s most famous inventions. It is essentially a high-frequency transformer. Tesla coils create extremely powerful electrical fields. Large coils have been known to wirelessly light up florescent lights up to 50 feet away, and because of the fact that it is an electric field that goes directly into the light and doesn’t use the electrodes, even burned-out florescent lights will glow.

Tesla coils have been used for medical purposes. In the late 1930’s until 1942, Georges Lakhovsky, working in a New York university hospital, reported healing many illnesses when patients were exposed to the field effect of a Tesla coil. Unfortunately, his untimely death resulted in his research being discontinued. Then, in 1982, Ukrainian nuclear physicists began studying the effects of application of human DNA frequencies to specific acupuncture points. According to Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D., who visited the Soviet Union in 1992, Russian physicians had treated, to great success, over 200,000 patients with this approach. (If you are not familiar with Norm Shealy, he is one of the great minds of the century; he founded the first pain-clinic in the country, and has consistently been in the forefront of mind/body medicine and holistic health for decades.)

Norm has been instrumental in this country for moving forward the use of the Tesla coil for health purposes. The mat contains a Tesla coil built into it. Fifty of us are participating in a five year research project, agreeing to lay on the mat at least 4-5 times a week for 30-60 minutes each time. As of December 31, 2010, 34 individuals had completed at least one year of using the mat, and have been tested for the difference in telomere lengths before and after use of the mat.80% (27 of 34) had increased growth in their telomeres. (I myself have not yet been re-tested, as I started the experiment later than the others.)

There are other methods for lengthening telomeres. One method is very expensive; one is moderately priced; one is free. Each, as well as Shealy’s mat, work quite effectively.

Al Sears, whose health eletter I receive, is one of the doctors who is certified to prescribe TA-65, which is a molecule that is extracted from the ancient Chinese herb, Astragalus. This herb helps prevent telomeres from shortening, and in some cases it actually lengthens telomeres, giving your cells a biologically-younger boost by stopping the countdown clock that ticks down with each cellular division. Taking Astragalus is a good thing, but the herb itself is not in a sufficiently concentrated form to give the same radical anti-aging effect. Sears charges $4000 for 8 bottles, a six-month supply. That’s the expensive alternative.

The mid-priced solution is omega-3.  A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed about 600 people over a full five years. They found that daily supplements of omega-3 significantly increased telomerase activity. The best sources for supplementing with omega-3 are cod liver oil and Sacha Inchi oil. A good dosage is 3 grams of omega-3 every day. Vitamins B12, E, D and C also increase the lifespan of cells by preventing telomere shortening.

And now – for the free solution.  Elizabeth Blackburn was one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize for her work on telomeres, and her work suggests a much cheaper and older method to telomere extension: meditation. Her research has drawn connections between the shortening of telomeres and stress reactions in the body. For example, she found that mothers with chronically ill children have shortened telomeres, indicating that chronic stress can have a huge influence on how cells divide-or fail to. The telomeres of people who feel more stressed are almost 50 percent shorter than people who say they’re less stressed. Since scientists have a rough idea what the average telomere length is for a specific age, they can estimate how much older the higher-stress group is biologically: it is a 9 to 17 years difference. Just by thinking they were aging faster, they actually aged faster. To reduce these destructive responses to stress, Blackburn suggests mindfulness meditation, a secular adaptation of traditional Buddhist meditation techniques. And there is research to back up her theory.  Researchers at the University of California-Davis found that after three months, people doing meditation training had 33 percent higher telomerase activity in their white blood cells than those who weren’t meditating. The problem for us normal people is they were meditating for six hours a day. But surely a normal meditation schedule will also work, perhaps less quickly and dramatically.  The implication is that if you can reduce the effects that stress has on you, through such techniques as meditation, you can increase your chance of rebuilding the telomeres and decrease the odds of having your cells die and contribute to age-related problems. Of course, as a psychoanalyst, I would submit that analysis, too, reduces stress, and thus would build telomeres – but alas, no such research has confirmed my speculation.

If you wish to purchase the Tesla coil mat, it costs $4000 – and it is good for life (unlike Sears’ TA65 supply which lasts only 6 months.  You can email me back, and I can describe the process of acquiring it. Or, you can meditate – and enjoy this and many other benefits.

And as a final BTW note – Telomerase is overactive in 85 percent of cancers. Food for thought for further research.

Jane G. Goldberg, Ph. D.La Casa Day Spa
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