An April 2018 article on Yahoo touts a supposed breakthrough in medicine “Enzyme That Affects Ageing, Cancer Decoded.”
Apparently scientists spent 20 years mapping an enzyme called telomerase that repairs the tips of chromosomes (called telomeres) so they don’t fray and deteriorate. The researchers were elated. They say that decoding telomerase, could lead to drugs that slow or block the ageing process and lead to new treatments for cancer. But, as usual, they are counting their chickens long before they hatch.
They are also playing with fire. A telomerase deficiency could accelerate cell death or too much telomerase “supports unbridled cell growth in most human cancers.” Scientists don’t know how to control the on/off switch for telomerase – they just know it’s genetic sequence.
Until they have a real breakthrough and a real treatment I recommend my old friend magnesium! I said that Magnesium Stabilizes Telomeres in an Aug 2012 blog. Here’s what I say in The Magnesium Miracle (2017):
The current research on aging is firmly tied up with telomeres. As we baby boomers age, we’re desperately trying to find ways to say younger. Anti-aging research is a multi-billion dollar industry. And besides facelifts and Botox, finding a way to protect our telomeres has become the Holy Grail of longevity research.
It should come as no surprise that magnesium is tightly wrapped up with telomeres. But the real shock is how few researchers are focusing on the miracle of magnesium in keeping telomeres from unraveling. Instead they are looking for drugs or formulating expensive supplements to save the telomeres – ignoring the solution that’s right before their eyes.
Shortened telomeres correspond with many conditions associated with aging including heart disease. Heart disease is often a product of magnesium deficiency. Two brilliant magnesium researchers, Drs. Burton and Bella Altura, who wrote the foreword to this book, have published well over 1,000 scientific articles, most of them on magnesium. In 2014 the Alturas participated in a groundbreaking study on magnesium and the enzyme telomerase. (1)
Please read the paper online in its entirety. In it the Alturas describe 25 years of their research that prefigures this present study. The paper’s discussion section is especially important showing how telomeres are damaged by a host of environmental factors, all of which are treatable and preventable by therapeutic levels of magnesium. The paper is supported with 142 references and it is so brilliant that I’m quite beside myself with excitement and I want to quote every word of it for you.
Let me first report the findings of the study: In this animal study, healthy rats were tested for their magnesium levels. The animals were then divided into two groups. One group ate rat chow with standard amounts of magnesium; the other group was given chow with reduced magnesium. After 21 days, the telomerase levels had dropped a significant 70-88 percent in the low-magnesium group. Telomerase measured specifically in heart cells was similarly reduced. Markers for free radical damage to DNA were increased; free radicals shorten telomeres.
In their conclusion, the Alturas say “We believe in view of the current report, and other works recently published by our labs, prolonged magnesium deficiency should be categorized as another epigenetic mechanism.”
By epigenetic mechanism they mean that telomerase is not being affected by some factor inherit in our genes and chromosomes but by an outside “switch”. That outside switch is magnesium. Epigenetics is the study of cellular or genetic variations that result from external or environmental factors that switch genes on and off and affect how cells express genes. It’s great news that magnesium has the ability to positively affect on genes, and keep our telomeres where they belong at the end of chromosomes.
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Reference: Shah NC, et al. Short-term magnesium deficiency downregulates telomerase, upregulates neutral sphingomyelinase and induces oxidative DNA damage in cardiovascular tissues: relevance to atherogenesis, cardiovascular diseases and aging. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2014; 7(3): 497–514.
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®
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