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Life extension

Video interview with Terry Grossman

On 2010-Oct-21, Nikola Danyalov conducted a video interview with anti-aging homeopathic medical doctor Terry Grossman. Dr. Grossman's credibility is a bit dubious, given his practice of homeopathy and Traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture, but here's what he had to say in the interview.

Part 1

[Introduction to life extension; it's doable]. Evolution has selected against long-lived individuals, because a high turnover rate provides for better adaptability. Genes that trigger diseases later in life, after reproduction, have been passed along.

Part 2 - disease prevention

The two top killers in the western world are cancer and heart disease (53% of deaths). We can detect cancer and heart disease way earlier, with two tests, which cost approximately $350 together:

  1. Coronary Artery Calcium Store
  2. Advanced Lipid Testing: includes HDL, LDL

~"In the US, healthcare is more like sickness care."

There are 250 cancers, and we only screen for 4 (colorectal, prostate, breast, cervical). The death rates for those cancers went way down after screening has been implemented on a wide scale. If you find a cancer before it spreads, it's curable 90% of the time. After it spreads, it's curable only 10% of the time.

When it makes the most sense to do the heart and cancer screening:

  • men at age 45
  • women at age 50

If you come from a family with a strong history of heart disease, you may advance the screening by 5 years, or start doing it at the age your parents had heart issues, if those happened earlier than 40 or 45.

Genetic testing: there are two important genes, that indicate predisposition to Alzheimer's and breast cancer. For breast cancer, the gene indicates certainty of getting cancer; it's only a problem of when.

Full genome sequencing is better than SNP testing, and cost in 2010 about $5000, down from $99,000 in 2007. [NB: the error rate is still high enough; check the link]. Gene testing for people under 40 makes a lot of sense when the price will come down to about $1000 in a few years.

If you are under 40, physically active and not overweight, but have a family history of diabetes, the best you can do is keeping the weight down and exercising, then avoiding high glycemic index foods (sugary foods, high starchy foods) because they put a big strain on the pancreas (the cells that secret insulin). For example, have pasta, white bread and bagels, white potatoes as treats, maybe once a month or two, but not once or twice a week. Replace them with whole grains, vegetables, fruits and protein sources.

Avoiding heart disease if it runs in your family: at 34, you don't need the Advanced Lipid Testing, but the Basic Lipid testing would make sense: cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL. If they're not in the perfect range, be aggressive with your diet, or if that doesn't bring the levels down, consider taking a statin drug, or supplements like red yeast rice, Niacin and plant sterols, which are very nice for lowering cholesterols without the side effects of the statin drugs.

@10:24 What does Grossman, 63, do for a healthy lifestyle:

  • follow the diet
  • get good exercise
  • control stress
  • be socially connected (being isolated has health risks equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day)
  • use your brain
  • ~"30 years later, I am stronger, healthier, happier, wiser, and my memory is as good as it was"
  • "My goal is to get older without aging"
  • "My biological age when I was 61, was 42"

Part 3

@1:08 - supplementation
Lifestyle choices are the most important, and supplementation can be extremely helpful. For most of us, our diet is not as nutritious as we'd like. 90% of my patients seem to have very low levels of Vitamin D due to not spending enough time in sunshine, so supplementation would help.

@2:06 - inflammation is an enormous source of big diseases: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, arthritis are all inflammatory diseases. We can reduce inflammation significantly by taking extra fish oil. David Sinclair's studies at Harvard have shown that taking resveratrol mimics the effects of calorie restriction.

@2:46 - "Transcend", Grossman and Kurzeil's sequel to Fantastic Voyage, is an acronym for 9 key elements: Talk with your doctor, Relaxation, Assessment, Nutrition, Supplements, Calorie reduction, Exercise, New technology, Detoxification.

@3:20 - calorie reduction: the only method that has so far been proven to increase life expectancy in all species tested. Okinawa, Japan has the greatest longevity in the world. When they eat, they start with a prayer that means "[eat until] stomach 80% full" - Hara hachi bu.

@4:08 - Calorie Restriction made simple:

  1. most days a week, have your main meal be a salad. This way, you cut calories considerably.
  2. try to fast 12 hours a day, for example over night, after dinner until breakfast.
  3. fast one day a week

20% Calorie Reduction would be a good target. 35% is too much for humans (Dr. Grossman's patients who do that are very gaunt, don't have much energy, and don't look healthy).

@7:06 - Detoxification

  • eat organic
  • drink lots of water
  • exercise (sweat gets toxins out)
  • saunas

@8:15 - exercise

  • aerobic exercise
  • progressive interval training: start at a certain rate, then you go a bit harder, then increase the rate and rest, until at the end you go at maximum rate
  • calisthenics. Strength training increases testosterone levels (very important for men)
  • always stretch after exercising

Dr. Grossman's religious beliefs

@10:56 - religious beliefs.

I'm not formally religious; I was raised Jewish and I still have a connection with my faith, but I'm not formally religious per se. But I believe that the universe is imbued with some force, some greater power that I don't understand exactly, but I don't think things are all mechanistic. I think there are forces that we can tap into. I believe in the law of attraction, the law of intention. I believe that what I manifest, I believe we all create our own life. And if I manifest what I want, I find that I often get it. And if I focus on negative things, I find that I often get that as well. So I try to be positive in my life, and as result my life has become increasingly happy all the time.

"Would it be fair to characterize you as an agnostic then?"

I don't have any formal belief in any specific deity per se, but I believe there is some type of force, some type of energy, some type of higher being, that we don't understand.

Fantastic Voyage and Transcend

Grossman and Kurzweil have made freely available a chapter of Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever which summarizes the steps one needs to take towards increased longevity:


See however this Amazon review of Transcend by Robert L. Blum, MD, PhD, a former colleague of Kurzweil, for some criticisms:

  • "The most impressive finding after years of clinical trials is that added supplements do NOT work. In contrast, Dean Ornish and others have repeatedly shown that a low calorie, low fat diet (which Ray and Terry also advocate) DOES work to slow atherosclerosis etc."
  • "I would also recommend taking a look at Ray and Terry's earlier work, Fantastic Voyage, because it is far more extensively referenced and is addressed at more of a Scientific American level rather than a Time Magazine level. I particularly valued the chapters dealing with stress and type-A personality and the chapter on cardiovascular disease. I also liked the extensive personal health info on Ray and on Terry. (Terry is indestructible; Ray (and I) both have a family history of atherosclerosis and other problems, that Ray discloses.) I had hoped that Transcend would also be at the Scientific American level, but they evidently decided to go for a broader audience."
  • "I do also recommend Fantastic Voyage, although you will quickly discover sections that are full of pseudoscience. However, the remainder of that book is better researched and presented at a higher level than the material in Transcend."