Genetics Article in New York Times

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Old 03-21-2013, 09:18 PM
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Default Genetics Article in New York Times

Food for thought for all of us but especially so for those with Jewish ancestry.....below article from New York Times newspaper......

Q. Can you give us some general findings about the 100-year-olds you studied?

A. They were often healthier than the spouses of their 70-year-old kids. They often got the same diseases that their sons and daughters-in-law got, but 30 years later.

And they were, for the most part, unless they had diabetes, fairly healthy right up until the end. Even when they had serious diseases, the progress was slower. The medical billings for centenarians in the last two years of their lives was, on the average, $8,000. For people who died between 60 and 70, it was $24,000.

The most common thing this group had is that they did not reveal any particular lifestyle secret for their own longevity.

When asked specifically, none has exercised. None was a vegetarian. Not a single one ate yogurt throughout his life.

In fact, 30 percent were overweight. Some smoked. The fact that they had a strong family history of exceptional longevity seemed to be the main commonality. This supports the notion that they have special genes protecting them from their environment.

One of the things I'm worried about is that my study will encourage people not to engage in healthy environmental practices such as diet and exercise, because they'll think it doesn't matter.

Q. A personal question, what does your own lipid profile look like?

A. That's one area where I most certainly do have a stake in this drug that's coming. I have a good H.D.L. count, but unfortunately, my molecules are small. This worries me. I'd like to be a healthy centenarian. And I will probably take this drug when it is ready.

ENTIRE ARTICLE FOLLOWS:

A CONVERSATION WITH/Nir Barzilai; It's Not the Yogurt: Looking for Longevity Genes


By CLAUDIA DREIFUS
Published: February 24, 2004

Dr. Nir Barzilai often feels misunderstood.

''People think I'm searching for the Fountain of Youth,'' he said over coffee. ''I'm not. I'm looking for ways to make old age better.''
Toward that goal, Dr. Barzilai, the director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, has spent five years investigating the genes and habits of 300 Ashkenazi Jews who have lived to be an average of 100.

His study has provided important information about longevity, including confirmation that picking the right parents is crucial for living a long life.
Almost all his research subjects had ancestors who were long-lived.

Dr. Barzilai, who was born in Israel 48 years ago, describes his own genetic endowments as good for medicine, but mediocre for longevity. His father, David, 80, was dean of an Israeli medical school, but has had bypass surgery. Dr. Barzilai's mother, Drora, 71, has diabetes.

What is needed, he said, are ''environmental interventions to give them, and perhaps myself, a long life.''
''I hope to do it.'' he said.

Q. How did this idea of yours, to look for clues about longevity in the genes of people who have lived to be 100, first develop?
A. I had been doing diabetes research. I still do. Diabetes is a disease that ages its victims rapidly. I'd been trying to understand how certain nutrients such as high sugar levels translate into biological actions in rats. We know that rodents live significantly longer when their calories are restricted.

When you do any work in this area, the question of heredity versus environment comes up. A researcher can't help but ask why some people's health is more affected by a certain diet than others? This led me to thinking about the heredity part of longevity.

I wondered why people born at the beginning of the last century who are still alive are relatively healthy. I wondered what they had in their genes that was special. When they were born, the average life expectancy was 40. What made it possible for them to live more than twice the average? These days, so many scientists look for the genes for specific diseases. I wanted to go the opposite way, look for genes that helped people live healthier and longer lives.

Q. Your study group consisted of about 300 Jews of Eastern European origin, ages 95 to 108. Why did you pick them?
A. It's very important to study a homogeneous population. The genetic makeup of Ashkenazi Jews is more homogeneous than many other groups'. Most are descended from people who had some very unfortunate experiences with history. In the 17th century, a series of pogroms and plagues decimated the Jews of Eastern Europe.
Their numbers were reduced to perhaps around 30,000. So the ''founder group'' is not very diverse genetically. This is why studying the Ashkenazi Jews was so useful in finding the breast cancer gene. It's why they are being used today to study the genetics of ovarian cancer.
Locating the 100-year-olds didn't take much. There were articles about what we were doing in the newspapers. We went to old age homes in the U.S. Often, people came to us by word of mouth.

Q. Did you consider doing your study in the Central Asian Georgia, the reputed homeland of the yogurt-eating-apricot-munching long-lived?
A. No. We think that claim may be inaccurate. There may be a history of people there exaggerating their longevity because Stalin, who was Georgian, wanted it known that Georgians were long-lived. Under Communism, people were exaggerating their age, bringing in their grandparents' identity cards when dealing with officials.

Q. How exactly did you conduct your study?
A. Using a mixture of medical science and anthropology, we arranged mini-family reunions with the centenarians and their 70- and 80-year-old ''kids,'' about half of whom had inherited the genetic mutation we were looking for. The spouses of these ''kids'' were our control group. They had shared an environment with someone with longevity genes, though they were unlikely to have them themselves.

At these reunions, we took extensive medical and family histories. The centenarians usually had a better memory than their children. We measured body fat and weight. A low percentage, we think, is one marker for longevity.

Q. Are you looking for the genetic markers for longevity?
A. Yes, and we've found several so far. The most important thing we've found is that most centenarians have a lot more than average H.D.L. proteins, the good cholesterol, in their blood. Also, they had a lot more of them when they were younger, because their children have a lot more than their peers do. Also, size matters with the protein molecules. Eighty percent of the children of the centenarians had larger than average high density lipoproteins.


Q. What do your findings linking H.D.L. cholesterol and aging mean genetically?
A. This led us to look at candidate genes involved in the regulation of lipid metabolism, and it means we've found a gene that is important in longevity. This gene obviously has a purpose. But if it's partially deactivated, it will cause you to live longer. If you have this genetic characteristic, your chance of getting from age 70 to 100 increases by over threefold. Among the 70-year-old control group we studied, 8 percent have this mutation. Among the 100-year-olds, 25 to 30 percent of them have it. We will have to look at other parts of this gene to see if there are more mutations. There are other genes that also control H.D.L. and the sizes of lipoproteins, and we're looking for them.

The gene that we discovered only explains 18 percent of the longevity. But it is possible that if everyone has the effect of this gene they will get to be 100. We want to explain 100 percent of the reasons for exceptional longevity. So we are looking at other genes. A very few of the oldest people we've studied actually do not have large lipoproteins and do not have any mutations that we've discovered so far.
These few often don't wear glasses and they don't use hearing aids. The genes for that group may be the most important to be found. We're looking for them right now.

Q. How do your findings change how medicine will deal with aging?
A. They point to the possibility of a drug. There are several companies that are developing a drug to act on the gene I've found and that is associated with longevity in my study. One is right now in Phase 3 trial, and it looks like it will increase H.D.L. and the size of the protein.

Q. Can you give us some general findings about the 100-year-olds you studied?
A. They were often healthier than the spouses of their 70-year-old kids. They often got the same diseases that their sons and daughters-in-law got, but 30 years later.
And they were, for the most part, unless they had diabetes, fairly healthy right up until the end. Even when they had serious diseases, the progress was slower. The medical billings for centenarians in the last two years of their lives was, on the average, $8,000. For people who died between 60 and 70, it was $24,000.
The most common thing this group had is that they did not reveal any particular lifestyle secret for their own longevity. When asked specifically, none has exercised. None was a vegetarian. Not a single one ate yogurt throughout his life.

In fact, 30 percent were overweight. Some smoked. The fact that they had a strong family history of exceptional longevity seemed to be the main commonality. This supports the notion that they have special genes protecting them from their environment.
One of the things I'm worried about is that my study will encourage people not to engage in healthy environmental practices such as diet and exercise, because they'll think it doesn't matter.

Q. A personal question, what does your own lipid profile look like?
A. That's one area where I most certainly do have a stake in this drug that's coming. I have a good H.D.L. count, but unfortunately, my molecules are small. This worries me. I'd like to be a healthy centenarian. And I will probably take this drug when it is ready.
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:38 PM
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Wow!

Quite interesting!

Thanks for pisting.
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:39 PM
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Posting ( not pisting...sorry)
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:53 AM
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Very interesting article, Sign me up to take this drug when it becomes available. I have some longevity in my family and I think that helps.

I used to work at Albert Einstein College of Medicine from 66 to 71. A nice place to work. I built a simple device for a doctor. He found out how "Phisohex" that was used to wash babies, somehow worked it's way to the brain and caused damage.
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Old 03-22-2013, 10:46 AM
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SO glad you shared this!
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Old 03-22-2013, 12:27 PM
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Smile The most important and telling sentence:

Dr. Barzilai said:
One of the things I'm worried about is that my study will encourage people NOT to engage in healthy environmental practices such as diet and exercise, because they'll think it doesn't matter.

I don't think that changes the outlook for longevity being based 50% on environmental practices and 50% on genes. Could some Jews have a genetic mutation for longevity? I suppose it's possible. But we shouldn't rush to judgement based on one study.

One thing to remember about centenarians is that they almost never claim to have followed a special diet. If they were raised with strong family traditions they have gotten so used to it over a long lifetime, that they no longer think it's anything special.

As far as smoking: Some long lived Okinawans were also smokers and it was suggested that it didn't bother them because their diets were very high in antioxidants.

About drugs: It was said that this study points to the possibility of a drug. That sends up a red flag, in my opinion. Look out for promises of something magical that requires little effort on your part. It almost reminds me of the promise of cholesterol lowering drugs. Sure, just take this and everything will be alright.

A drug for longevity may never come, but in the mean time, the promise of it may serve well to raise money for genetic research. That's the name of the game. And if such a drug does come on the market, will it come with a guarantee? Ha!

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Old 03-22-2013, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by 2BNTV View Post
Very interesting article, Sign me up to take this drug when it becomes available. I have some longevity in my family and I think that helps.

I used to work at Albert Einstein College of Medicine from 66 to 71. A nice place to work. I built a simple device for a doctor. He found out how "Phisohex" that was used to wash babies, somehow worked it's way to the brain and caused damage.
Very interesting. Back in 1968, our N.J. pediatrician advised that I use Phisohex on our newborn daughter, to wash her face, etc. She's fine and certainly didn't suffer any damage.............but good to know. What type of machine did you build? By 1971, when we were in Vermont, our new pediatrician did not recommend Phisohex to wash our infant son.

Perhaps it was phased out...or not as popular anymore??????? I had totally forgotten about Phisohex until you mentioned it in your post.
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Old 03-22-2013, 08:00 PM
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SO glad you shared this!
You are very welcome. I sent you another p.m. in response to yours....; by the way, your computer is working just fine and I have been getting all of them. We definitely think alike, if you know what I mean.
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Old 03-22-2013, 08:15 PM
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If we all live to be 100+ or more, will we still have peer pressure?
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Old 03-22-2013, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by 2BNTV View Post
Very interesting article, Sign me up to take this drug when it becomes available. I have some longevity in my family and I think that helps.

I used to work at Albert Einstein College of Medicine from 66 to 71. A nice place to work. I built a simple device for a doctor. He found out how "Phisohex" that was used to wash babies, somehow worked it's way to the brain and caused damage.
I remember that, 2B. Our first child was born in '73, and by then Phisohex was a no-no. What did you build for the doctor?
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Old 03-22-2013, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Villages PL View Post
Dr. Barzilai said:
One of the things I'm worried about is that my study will encourage people NOT to engage in healthy environmental practices such as diet and exercise, because they'll think it doesn't matter.

I don't think that changes the outlook for longevity being based 50% on environmental practices and 50% on genes. Could some Jews have a genetic mutation for longevity? I suppose it's possible. But we shouldn't rush to judgement based on one study.

One thing to remember about centenarians is that they almost never claim to have followed a special diet. If they were raised with strong family traditions they have gotten so used to it over a long lifetime, that they no longer think it's anything special.

As far as smoking: Some long lived Okinawans were also smokers and it was suggested that it didn't bother them because their diets were very high in antioxidants.

About drugs: It was said that this study points to the possibility of a drug. That sends up a red flag, in my opinion. Look out for promises of something magical that requires little effort on your part. It almost reminds me of the promise of cholesterol lowering drugs. Sure, just take this and everything will be alright.

A drug for longevity may never come, but in the mean time, the promise of it may serve well to raise money for genetic research. That's the name of the game. And if such a drug does come on the market, will it come with a guarantee? Ha!

Exactly. Most people I know who lived into their mid to late 90's had good attitudes, DID NOT DWELL on their health or diet........had a kind heart and a deep spirituality or belief in something outside of themselves.

No one should fear death. It's such a waste of time, while we are still living, to try to prevent death from coming to visit. Its just a natural cycle of life.

There are so many other much more interesting books to read out there than only those on diet and health.............however, if you want a new book to read with regard to "Is there life after death".......Katie Couric had a guest on her show today, whose book I just put on my Kindle......

Proof of Heaven: A Doctor

Proof of Heaven : A Doctor’s Experience with the Afterlife – NEWSWEEK and The Daily Beast

Dr. Eben Alexander is a Neurosurgeon who DID NOT believe that there was life after death..........boy, did he ever change his mind after slipping into a coma from meningitis. I just downloaded the book onto my Kindle and can't wait to read it..........
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Old 03-23-2013, 12:50 PM
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Exactly. Most people I know who lived into their mid to late 90's had good attitudes, DID NOT DWELL on their health or diet........had a kind heart and a deep spirituality or belief in something outside of themselves.

No one should fear death. It's such a waste of time, while we are still living, to try to prevent death from coming to visit. Its just a natural cycle of life.
In my opinion, lots of people fear death and that's why the churches are full of old people on Sunday. Otherwise, if they don't fear death, why would they dwell on the possibility of an afterlife? I believe they fear the possibility that they might actually go nowhere. And they desperately want to feel as though they will be going somewhere nice after they die. They fear the alternative.....nothingness.

If no one dwells on their health or diet, who are all those people shopping at health food stores? Who are all those people buying health and diet books from the health-section at the book store? Why does the Daily Sun have at least 3 weekly columns on diet and health? Why are there so many health clubs in The Villages? Why is there a Medical and Health Discussion board? Why do people get degrees in nutrition and diet (dietitions)? Why are schools trying to serve healthier school lunches?

I believe that a good healthy diet, along with some exercise, is an affirmation of life or a celebration of life. And if there is a God, God will approve of his creation being treated with care and respect.
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Old 03-23-2013, 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by marianne237 View Post
If we all live to be 100+ or more, will we still have peer pressure?
Great observation / query..........

All of the long lived Vermonters we read about daily in our newspapers up here , seemed to have been raised on farms.........partaking of all of the food groups, including dairy, eggs, chicken, etc..........and I'm sure....veggies.

What some folks are missing in thinking it's only the food we consume that contributes to the possibility of getting cancer...........or heart disease, I think it's more the pharmaceuticals this modern generation overdoses on.

So many very very young women with aggressive breast cancers; dying of such after the best of treatment......in their 30's and early 40's.
We know quite a few.

Could it possibly be the birth control pills and such? Tampering with nature and its hormones? It isn't just food....and it isn't always just genetics although genes do play a role in who might get cancer.

As far as the big pharmaceutical companies flipping and flopping on the newest little pill of the moment and then doing a recall or stating that there's a class action law suit for those who were harmed by such pharmaceuticals**..............or,does anyone really listen to the side effects for each drug they push on the evening news commercials????? They are worse than the original ailment.

**or medical procedures such as faulty hip replacements, etc.

Longevity might be a gift........for some. All of the ones we've known had a "young at heart" attitude, daily simple exercise like a walk......not killing themselves on the treadmill or with personal trainers........and enjoyed all food groups, excluding none. They've always been a joy to have at our gatherings.........and now we are the age they were, and we miss them all. I'd say "sense of humor" and not obsessing over every little morsel of food, having a good and kind spirit, will lead to a good long life.

Does anyone really want to be in the company of anyone obsessing over their daily meals? Someone with a varied interest in a vast amount of subjects...........would be interesting to have at any of our summer barbecues.
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Old 03-23-2013, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by senior citizen View Post

There are so many other much more interesting books to read out there than only those on diet and health.............however, if you want a new book to read with regard to "Is there life after death".......Katie Couric had a guest on her show today, whose book I just put on my Kindle......

Proof of Heaven: A Doctor

Proof of Heaven : A Doctor’s Experience with the Afterlife – NEWSWEEK and The Daily Beast

Dr. Eben Alexander is a Neurosurgeon who DID NOT believe that there was life after death..........boy, did he ever change his mind after slipping into a coma from meningitis. I just downloaded the book onto my Kindle and can't wait to read it..........
This doctor is coming to a location (close to TV) in April to discuss his book. I'm planning to attend. If anyone is interested, I can post detailed information.
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by senior citizen View Post
Very interesting. Back in 1968, our N.J. pediatrician advised that I use Phisohex on our newborn daughter, to wash her face, etc. She's fine and certainly didn't suffer any damage.............but good to know. What type of machine did you build? By 1971, when we were in Vermont, our new pediatrician did not recommend Phisohex to wash our infant son.

Perhaps it was phased out...or not as popular anymore??????? I had totally forgotten about Phisohex until you mentioned it in your post.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CFrance View Post
I remember that, 2B. Our first child was born in '73, and by then Phisohex was a no-no. What did you build for the doctor?
Sorry guys but I don't quite remember exactly as it was soooooooo looooooonnnnnngggggg ago. What I did was very simple. The study the doctor completed was much more complex. Dr.Cecil whatshisname. I can't remember.
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