A scientist works in the lab at University of California San Francisco October 5, 2009 in San Francisco, California. UCSF scientist Elizabeth Blackburn shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for their discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.

Exercise, sleep and stress reduction are common prescriptions for staving off some of the diseases that can come with old age, but few of us understand exactly how these habits protect and change our bodies. Part of the answer may be that these healthy habits protect our telomeres — the tiny caps at the end of our chromosomes that keep conditions like diabetes and cancer at bay. That’s according to Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn and psychologist Elissa Epel, authors of “The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer.” In this hour, they join us to discuss their theory on how to slow aging on a cellular level, and they’ll also share some specific practices they claim can help protect your telomeres and potentially extend your lifespan.

More about ‘The Telomere Effect’ and Information About Testing (mentioned on air)

Guests:
Elizabeth Blackburn, president, Salk Institute; co-author, "The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer"; received the 2009 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine
Elissa Epel, professor, psychiatry, UCSF; co-author, "The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer"

  • EIDALM

    While it is true that that sleep, exercise, and stress reduction does plays big part in keeping healthier at old age, but still genetics and family history play bigger part of reaching or being healthier at old age.

  • Noelle

    Well, for those who are losing health care, they need to meditate and visualize health? It’s our fault if we can’t deal with stress? Individual solutions to a larger issue.

  • Paul

    What do the guests think of the use of Nicotinamide Riboside to boost NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) levels, in order to support metabolic reactions?

  • Robert Thomas

    Remember biorhythms? That was cool.

    • William – SF

      I remember the kamasutra.

      • Kevin Skipper

        No you don’t.

        • William – SF

          …sanded “off”, …

          Some things just can’t be copyrighted … or copied wrong

          • Kevin Skipper

            Genetic ‘research’ campaigns seek to perfect the reconstruction/replication efforts of the recent and ham-handed past.

  • Paul

    Have the guests heard that the molecular link between excessive sugar intake and Alzheimers has recently been proven, because sugar causes glycation damage to an enzyme that breaks down plaques?

  • Noelle

    Fascinating article about why there are high infant mortality rates(stress from racist country?):
    https://www.thenation.com/article/whats-killing-americas-black-infants/

    • Paul

      It certainly doesn’t help that blacks are encouraged to be racist themselves. There isn’t much metacognition or destressing in the racist’s lifestyle.

      • Kevin Skipper

        In you view, who is it then, that racism effects?

        • Paul

          Both the racists (be they black, white, latino, Asian etc) who take a conflict-based approach to life, and the victims to whom they attempt to bring conflict. Give peace a chance, Kev.

          • Kevin Skipper

            At risk of facetiousness, in IR, academics and pundits rebrand whites’ conflict-based worldview as “Realist.” Most of us take that literally, as opposed to its actual root, “RealPolitik.”

            “There will be no peace until we get Equal Rights!
            And, Justice!
            I said Equal Rights and Justice.” -Peter Tosh

    • Kevin Skipper

      Fascinating indeed, seeing as the rule of “Seven Generations” is recorded in literature that goes back thousands of years, if not more.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Uh huh. You’re from UC so we know that you all about killer and life-shortening stress and trauma markers in various groups.

    Let’s speed it up, please.

    Thank’s Krasny for ushering things onto the psychological aspects of this branch of genetic science. Same for the mention of meditation and ‘holistic wellness.’

    My question is simple. How, to what degree are we willing to address the role that this concept has played in the presence of ‘generational memory.’ Just as with telomeres and genetic health, have become common knowledge, so has the manner in which various social experiences have a tangible effect on the shape and condition of various disparate populations.

    Please speak to what science understands about how famine, conflict, war, displacement and marginalization are known to shape not only the minds and emotions but also the genetic legacies of the groups up upon which they are inflicted?

    It seem’s that any UC subsidized scientist would have an especially keen understanding of such collateral effects.

    I’ll skip the question of the term ‘our’ when talking about DNA and resistance to genetic mutations and protein damage. I’ll do the same with any idea of disparate abilities for different genetic “groups” to resist or repair such damage or the interest in ‘making up for’ such disparities.

  • Kevin Skipper

    If all of our cells were the same….we’d all be Hebrews. End of story. BOOM!!! ***Drops mic. Struts off stage.***

  • Kevin Skipper

    Mitochondria and it’s related sections of DNA: Eugenics weakens genetic strength. Stop doing it and there won’t be a problem.

    ***Looking your way, Berkeley and UCSF!!!***

  • Elizabeth Lass

    If Michael could stop interrupting Elizabeth while she’s in the midst of an insightful sentence that would be great, thank you.

    • Kevin Skipper

      Yeah, Krasny, let her pontificate on centuries-old maxims regarding the transferability of generational experiences of both privilege and oppression as they contribute to broad-based health markers. She was totally gonna get to that.

    • Paul

      They’re getting around… This show is just one stop.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nki_hHblDP4

  • Kevin Skipper

    Question: How can the concerned citizen better understand the malefic genetic effects of gentrification?

    • Robert Thomas

      I recommend use of this tool…

      http://www.aurameter.com/

      • Kevin Skipper

        LOL! When employed in the Great Pyramid, does that doohickey allow the user to see the true shape and color of the noses of those depicted in the wall carvings?

  • gregralphjohn

    Your guest mentioned “soda” often. What is it in the “soda”, the bicarbonate? If it’s the sugar, it would be extremely helpful to know that, and differentiate. [The “Soda Tax” should have been labeled the “Sugar Tax”. It was almost impossible to find out whether Diet Sodas were lumped in with the tax.] Those of us that drink only “diet” would also love to know what those compounds may be doing to us, btw, which may be a different topic.

    • Robert Thomas

      With respect to “soda”, fountain drinks once contained small amounts of dissolved salts such as sodium citrate, sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, potassium citrate, potassium sulfate or disodium phosphate (a “cherry phosphate”). They variously impart mildly tart or sour tastes, as they do when they occur in natural mineral waters.

      Modern carbonated beverages are made fizzy by dissolving neutral carbon dioxide gas into water, creating carbonic acid.

    • Robert Thomas

      Something I’ve noticed also, is that the unsweetened “soda water” one finds in the grocery store, sold as a tonic or cocktail mixer, contains a small amount of bicarbonate as was originally used to flavor quinine-based anti-malarial “tonic water”. Products labeled “seltzer water” generally contains only carbon dioxide and water.

  • Ben Rawner

    Is there research regarding telomeres and negative behaviors (cigarette smoking, drinking, marijuana smoking)? Or foods that stimulate telomeres retention?

  • Kevin Skipper

    Anytime I hear the public university start a conversation about genetics, my ears perk up at the mention of the word “us” or “our” when it comes into DNA. Without being facetious, the circuitous manner of this discourse leads me to wonder, what is it about this subject that it’s participants seem so uninterested in discussing? Why are Western European scientists always the go-to pundits on the finer points of genetic ‘research?’ Remember when it was the heavily-accented German or Austrian academic? Now the voice is different, as is the conversation.

    Still though, it seems to carefully tip-toe around the obvious. Today’s social arrangement subjects virtually everyone to lasting input on their DNA. The resulting patterns on genetic and overall health are well known, as are the mechanisms that have been devised to amplify, exaggerate and perpetuate these effects.

    University of California- you know the rest.

  • Paul

    The guest who says religiosity helps to destress, does she actually think that atheists don’t live as long?
    Because the evidence does not support that. Europeans are mostly atheists and they don’t live shorter lives.
    Maybe she also thinks it will help to read Harry Potter and other fantasy books in addition to absorbing religious fantasies?

    • Kevin Skipper

      Though subject to factual validation, a good point nonetheless. Not necessarily individual lifespans in question here. Seems that with institutions like UC and the State of California, genetic lifespans are the chief concern.

      At risk of textile-based metaphors… Seems that some of us have more thread in our spool than others. These ‘scientists’ are sharpening the scissors, threading the needles, and working that loom.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Hippocampus, Amygdala, Pineal.

    Let’s talk more about that.

    ***Who got soul? I got soul. We got soul. You got soul.***

  • William – SF

    Proof!, The Apprentice is killing us!!

    • Kevin Skipper

      How dare you bite the medium-sized hand that feeds us such comedic gems!?!?!?

      “OOOOHHHH you’re makin’ me live!
      WHOOO HOOO HOO!!!
      Whenever this world is cruel to me.
      …..
      OOOhhhh, Trump, you’re my best friend!!!”

      • Noelle

        the Kevin who just called in isn’t you? Sitting is bad!!!!!!!!!

        • Kevin Skipper

          Sitting AND smoking are the new coffee break. Coffee included.

  • Noelle

    Americans definitely need more sleep.

    • William – SF

      …more …sex, European style health care, sanity from Republicans, more reading / less TV, more exercise (1st one covers this), organic whole food, humor (not helped by ‘sanity from Republican’), …well made cocktails

      • Paul

        Fewer religious cults, too. Except for the FSM that is. Peace be unto Pasta (PBUB).

      • Noelle

        yes! you articulated this better than I could. Oh, but don’t forget wine and beer!

        • William – SF

          All are a telomere away from recall.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Lifestyle, stress, genetic health and tech-based racial/ethnic affinity algorithms. Significant?

  • Kevin Skipper

    Social-stress disproportionately affects African-American boys, many of whom prove uncommonly resistant to expected telomere damage, the reasons for which “science” is duly ‘curious.’

    There you have it! In case I ever try to deny it (which I will), they finally told the truth.

    Speechless. No words needed.

  • SJ Richardson

    I missed the bulk of the talk, I just caught the end where people were phoning in. Did they mention any supplements to take to prolong the life of your telomeres? I am on a great regime of adaptogens (to help with stress) and a specific telomere support at the moment, and curious to know if they suggested anything.

  • Kevin Skipper

    48:18 Jay Belsky with the call heard round the world! Wish I could take more credit but still, was that not epic!?!? Thank you Elissa Epel. I know that wasn’t easy.

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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