01 October 2012

DNA and the dangly bits

This week, more important news about telomeres, their links to ageing and cancer and what to do about it. Then some more useful feedback from the recent blog survey, and a glimpse of things to come as a result. 

Also, I must say how good it is to be back home after a long and wonderful trip and retreat overseas. More of that next week, but first:

Thought for the Day

I do not want to achieve immortality through the legacy of my work
I want to achieve immortality by not dying
                                                                            Woody Allen
Good luck with that fantasy!!!

Telomere length, the risk of cancer and cancer mortality
Some of you may have seen this post already. It had a few days on the blog having been posted in error while I was travelling home. If so, my apologies and maybe you skip to the feedback.

Telomeres are nucleoprotein complexes at the end of our DNA. The dangly bits! Telomeres shorten each time our cells reproduce and therefore reflect organism aging at a cellular level. At a critically short telomere length, cells loose the ability to divide and replicate, eg they die. Malignant cells, in contrast, reactivate and overexpress the enzyme telomerase that lengthens telomeres and allows for plentiful divisions.

Critically short telomeres may increase cancer risk.

Recent research investigated associations between baseline telomere length, the incidence of cancer and cancer mortality over a follow-up period of 10 years.

The conclusions reached were that there was a statistically significant inverse relationship between telomere length and both cancer incidence and mortality, suggesting that keeping telomeres long through telomerase activation could likely prevent cancer and/or increase the chance of survival for individuals who develop cancer.

Link here for the full article. REFERENCE: Peter Willeit P et al, JAMA. 2010;304(1):69-75.

It has been reported in previous blogs that telomerase levels have been shown to be increased by a healthy lifestyle and meditation. Not surprisingly, a lot of research is now searching for compounds, natural or chemical that might lengthen telomeres.

Of interest is TA-65, a Telomerase Activator that has been available for nearly 5 years and that has been used in some people with cancer.

Dr Ed Park from California reports that a metastatic lung cancer in a dog that had a leg amputated due to an osteosarcoma, and a brain cancer in a man both cleared after being on TA-65. TA-65 is a single extract from the root of the Astragalus plant.

It seems a metastatic pancreatic cancer has also been helped by Product B – a combination of natural compounds thought to lengthen telomeres.

Short videos detailing the above 3 cases can be viewed by linking here.


Know that when you are reasonably diligent with a healthy lifestyle, especially eating well, exercising and meditating regularly, you are protecting and quite possibly strengthening and extending your telomeres, and as such, your life span and good health! We just get more and more research evidence of the benefits of living well - now there is a surprise!

As a direction for research, it would be very interesting to  measure the telomere lengths of long-term, remarkable cancer survivors. If as expected, they are longer than the norm, then the question again has to be, what either keeps them long in these people, or extends them. My guess it has to do with lifestyle factors.


Telomeres, meditation and length of life



The range of practical and inspiring suggestions from the blog survey was really useful. But first, who else is reading along with you!

Most of you readers are in good health, while around a quarter are dealing with significant illness. The majority are over 50, in full or part-time work (although around a quarter are retired and there is a good percentage of younger people), and there was a high level of interest in all the common blog topics (with relationships being the exception – only half the level).

Most people have been reading the blog for over 2 months; around 90% prefer to read the blog weekly or fortnightly and most prefer guest bloggers monthly or even less frequently. Most of you forward posts frequently or occasionally and many enjoy feeling connected through the blog to other like-minded people.

There were many great suggestions for future blogs; the most immediate one I will address is how to travel well – without jet lag and illness; but with heaps of energy and delight!


Including all the latest research on telomeres!

Saturday, 20 October, 2012

When: 9.30am (for 10am start) - 4pm 
Where: Veterinary Science Conference Centre, Webster Theatre, Sydney University

Sunday, 21 October, 2012


When: 9.30am (for 10am start) - 4pm 
Where: Veterinary Science Conference Centre, Webster Theatre, Sydney University

Bookings Essential: Call Sarah Tail 0418 22 0590 or Tina Rae (02) 4294 8361
Register on line: at www.rigpa.com.au 


I will be speaking amidst a wonderful array of 20 speakers at this year's Annual Conference of the Gawler Foundation in Melbourne this November: 17 - 18. Hope to see you there - it is always a great event and a highlight of TGF's year; not the least because so many supporters, participants and friends of the Foundation gather.

1 comment:

  1. I love learning of all the ways our body can avoid illness and even heal itself. This info about telomeres is really interesting and as I eat dinner tonight, I can imagine another way it is doing me good - helping out via my telomeres. Hooray!