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Telomerase increase with Ornish Diet
engineerguy posted:
Hi folks,

Here's an amazing reference

Dr. Ornish collaborated with Nobel Prize winner Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn. She got the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine, for work with telomeres, and the discovery of telomerase, the enzyme that repairs telomeres.

Telomeres are like the plastic sleeve on the ends of shoelaces, except telomeres are on the ends of DNA twisted pairs, in our chromosomes. As we age, the telomeres shorten, and when the telomeres get too short, the DNA unravels, and then we unravel. It's a theory of aging.

The Ornish diet increased telomerase by 30%. That is amazing.

Best regards, EngineerGuy
heretk responded:
Yes and no. Ornish is using a positive logic to justify increased telomerase (i.e. cells get it which is supposed to be "good"), and he is using a negative logic to justify that lower HDL on his diet is also a good thing (i.e. body doesn't get it because it doesn't need it (*) which is also supposed to be "good") . He cannot have it both ways!

Almost all control functions of the body operate in a negative feedback loop. If the body doesn't need a certain factor (hormone or enzyme) or if it is incapable of producing it while needed, then it produces less of it and vice versa. I suspect that the increased telomerase production on a low fat vegan diet was to repair an increased DNA damaged from phytotoxins from vegetables and fruit.

That a diet high in fruit and vegetables may accelerate DNA damage, can be found in this (**) study and also here (***)

Best regards,


*) I can think of a third and a fourth type of an argument explaining the low HDL on Ornish. Namely that the body maintains lower level of something if it cannot produce enough of it due to nutritional deficit of saturated fat and that HDL particles are depleted faster due to their role in the immune and detox/cleanup apparatus. I personally think that is the real cause of the low HDL on his diet! Not enough saturated fat plus phytotoxins from huge amounts of vegetables and fruit!

**) Quote: " African-Americans had statistically significantly lower plasma concentrations of vitamin E, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lutein zeaxanthin than Whites, as well as lower self-reported intake of most antioxidants. Levels of oxidative DNA damage, measured using the alkaline comet assay, were lower in African-Americans than Whites. "

***) Quote: " Since no long-term effects of GTE were observed, the study essentially served as a fruit and vegetables depletion study. The overall effect of the 10-week period without dietary fruits and vegetables was a decrease in oxidative damage to DNA, blood proteins, and plasma lipids, concomitantly with marked changes in antioxidative defence. "

telonaut responded:
There are a ton of problems with this study design. First it was tiny, second it was short, third increase in telomerase as an end point, fourth it uses arbitrary units to measure telomerase expression. The first 3 are no doubt because of cost containment issues and speed to publish. That I get; whomever had to pony up for the study wanted to keep it short and inexpensive. The last is something that needs to be standardized in the industry and is not as of yet.
I think the expression of telomerase is WBC is generally "good" and does not reflect damage. Similar increases were seen in the Rejuvenation Research study ( Harley et al.) with TA-65 but the end point was after 1 year, the n was higher (113) and the telomere based end point was short telomere number not "telomerase expression" . As far as technique I am sure that Blackburn's lab is well versed in the TRAP assay so user error is not an issue here but it is operator dependent in many ways.
Telomerase expression does not always equate to telomere lengthening.(Wright, Shay) Many people are unaware of this.This has been proven in several different cell lines. Also Carol Greider's lab released a paper awhile back which has since been reinforced: short telomeres not absolute length are the major determinant of cellular fate. Short telomere testing is by far the best answer to this question. Until then we will continue to see these quick hit studies that may or may not add much to our knowledge. The general public and most docs are not aware of the limitations which has many ramifications.
jc3737 replied to telonaut's response:
Thanks for the analysis.It appears that the study may be all but worthless.

Have you done any analysis of "The China Study" or Dr Campbell's counter to Denise Minger.
DoloresTeresa replied to heretk's response:
I am confused by the study I read. The opening line of the abstract says that high anti oxidant levels DECREASE the degree of cancer. The last part of the abstract says that more anti oxidants mean more DNA damage. The questionnaire asked about food intake AND supplement use. Is it likely that the black subjects of the experiment took less or no supplements but the white subjects did use supplements? It is no secret that using supplements have proven in some cases to worsen the very problem that they were meant to cure. For instance, beta carotene and lung cancer. The supplements increased the incidence of lung cancer but eating food with beta carotene did not.

I would like to see the full length article and know exactly what it was that each was eating and what if any supplements were being used. And how they determined DNA damage.

DoloresTeresa replied to heretk's response:
Re: the GTE study. Sorry, another one that I don't get. How do they know that the GTE was not responsible for the decrease in oxidative damage?

So people in parts of the world that eat starches and fruits and vegetables and who live a long time without degenerative diseases do so---how? You can't say that people on the SAD eat abundantly of fruits and vegetables (unless you count french fries and catsup). Yet in our culture there is plenty of preventable degenerative disease and we are exporting our way of eating.

This requires a second look.

heretk replied to DoloresTeresa's response:
Re: " The opening line of the abstract says that high anti oxidant levels DECREASE the degree of cancer. The last part of the abstract says that more anti oxidants mean more DNA damage. T"

That's,right. In my book it is called lying; in modern academic circles it is called "damage control exercise". This strategy is probably based on the author's observation that people sitting in the academic funding institutions and grant-giving committees may be too lazy to read the full text, only the opening line.



No, I think no supplements. The beta carotene tests were their way of assessing the overal intake of vegetables and fruit, to calibrate the questionaire forms. The Whites in the study ate more of that and suffered more DNA damage. Also, health supplements seem to be a domain of the well off, don't think it applies to that study.

heretk replied to DoloresTeresa's response:
Re: How do they know that the GTE was not responsible for the decrease in oxidative damage?

Because they found that the green tee compounds are completely eliminated after a very short time, and did not find any measurable effects immediately following the dosage. They found that GTE did not really matter, so they turned their attention to secondary effects such as fruit and vegetables and DNA damage. The final conclusion turned out to be a surprise, so much that there was a story involved in getting it published. (Peter wrote about that on his blog in this article ) . I love and welcome any controversy and learn from that! It forces us to question and think.

heretk replied to telonaut's response:

Thank you for your comments. You may be correct. I am not 100% sure about the interpretation of the higher telomerase level, I was trying to put forward a logical argument why the opposite to the author's conclusion may also be true.


Please feel free to post more critical comments in our other threads. We will appreciate!

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