by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Aging

Dec 9 2019

Industry-funded study of the week: a live-forever dietary supplement

When I saw this ad in last Thursday’s New York Times, I immediately clipped it out.

What is this?

It is an ad for a dietary supplement, Telos95, with a classic structure/function claim (a type invented for dietary supplements of less-than-established efficacy): “telomere & DNA chromosome health support—-telomere lengthening and lowering cellular age in just 6 months.”

Telos95 is the only plant-based dietary supplement that aids in the chromosome stability during the process of cell replication.  It’s vital that normal cell replicative senescence takes place, so the cells divide in a healthy state and telomeres remain at the same length or lengthen, which biologically ensures a health centrosome matrix and repetitive nucleotide sequence at each end of the chromosome.

Got that?

What’s with telomeres?

All of this refers to work that got a Nobel Prize for Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider, and Jack Szostak in 2009.  They showed that telomeres, caps on the end of chromosomes, protect chromosomes from degradation.  Shorter telomeres are associated with cell aging.

What got my attention in this ad was its report of a 2018 clinical trial finding that this supplement reduced cellular age by more than 7 years.

Really?  I had some immediate questions.

What’s in the supplement? 

The ad doesn’t say anything other than “all natural food grade polyphenols.”  But I managed to find a Supplement Facts Label online.

Highly purified polyphenols extracted from grape and olive leaves?

These, by the way, cost about $100 for 30 capsules.

Whatever.

What’s the study? 

I was able to find it online: A randomized-controlled clinical study of Telos95® , a novel antioxidative dietary supplement, on the shortening of telomere length in healthy volunteers  

It’s in a journal I’ve never heard of previously: HealthMed, published in Bosnia and Herzogovina

The report of the study starts out rather peculiarly:

The objective of this study was to determine the deodorant effectiveness of a dietary supplement to halt the shortening of telomere length as measured through blood samples before and after product use.

Deodorant?  Maybe something is lost in translation here?

Who paid for the study?

The published paper doesn’t say.  It does, however, refer to a Sponsor responsible for the study’s protocols, safety evaluation of the products, and safety indemnification of Princeton Consumer Research Corp (PCR), the group that carried out the study.

PCR’s website, by the way, states that “PRINCETON CONSUMER RESEARCH IS NOT AFFILIATED IN ANY WAY TO PRINCETON UNIVERSITY”.  Whew.

PCR’s press release credits Certified Nutritionals as behind the study.

What is this all about?

The Daily Beast did an investigative report on something similar a couple of years ago.

Obviously, this is about selling a supplement made from rice at profits so great that Longevity by Nature can afford a full-page ad in the Times (these used to run in the $80,000 range, if not more).

It is also about the use of industry-sponsored research to sell products: the sponsored study –> press release –> huge advertisement –> increased product sales.

Will this product keep your telomeres from shortening?  If only.

Sep 26 2019

The food industry’s view of healthy aging

NutraIngredients.com, a food industry newsletter published in the UK, has issued a collection of articles on healthy aging.  This should give you a good idea of where products targeted to the elderly are headed.

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Jan 24 2009

Update on obesity issues

While the new website was in production, I got a bit caught up on my reading.  Here’s what’s been happening on the obesity front.

Middle-age spread: eat less or else! A new study proves what every woman over the age of 50 knows all too well: you just can’t eat the way you used to without putting on the pounds.  Muscle mass declines with age, calorie needs do too.    Activity helps some, but not enough.  I think it’s totally unfair, by the way, but I’m guessing the same thing happens to men (but they have more muscle to begin with).  Alas.

Turn off the TV: Common Sense Media looked at 173 studies of the effects of watching TV on child and adolescent health.  Of 73 studies examining correlations between TV-watching and obesity, 86% found strong associations.  TV-watching was also strongly associated with such unfortunate outcomes as cigarette smoking, drug use, early sexual activity, and poor academic performance.  Conclusion: if you want to encourage kids to be healthier, turn off the TV!

British government launched an anti-obesity campaign: The UK government’s Change4Life campaign is designed to promote healthier lifestyles.  This is causing much discussion, not least because of its food-industry sponsorship (uh oh).  Food companies are said to view the campaign as good for business (uh oh, indeed). The government wants everyone to help with the campaign by putting up posters and such, and its website is cheery.  Buried in all of this is some good advice, but most of it is phrased as eat better, not eat less or avoid.  That, of course, is why the food industry is willing to fund a campaign which, if successful, could hardly be in the food industry’s best interest.

Dec 28 2007

A new pyramid for older adults?

I’ve been hearing lots of media announcements of the food guide pyramid for old folks produced by Alice Lichtenstein and her colleagues who do research on aging at Tufts University. This one is for adults age 70 and over and is published in the January issue of the Journal of Nutrition. The press announcement from Tufts compares it to the USDA’s MyPyramid of 2005. The differences: even greater emphasis on eating healthfully and staying active (because older adults don’t need as many calories to maintain weight) and, maybe, some supplemental vitamin D (bone health) and vitamin B12 (to overcome losses in absorption ability).