Interview with DR. BRUCE AMES
Dr. Bruce Ames
Andrew W. Saul Interviews
DR. BRUCE NATHAN
Bruce Ames, PhD, is 78 years young (2006) and he is quite certain that good nutrition has kept him that way. Dr. Ames, Professor in the Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California at Berkeley, has research interests that seem to closely coincide with those of this Newsletter’s regular readers. “Inadequate intakes of vitamins and minerals (less than 50% of the RDA) are very common,” says his UC Berkley webpage, adding that “inadequate intake of folate, B12, or B6 leads to chromosome breaks” just as if radiation caused those breaks. ( http://mcb.berkeley.edu/faculty/BMB/amesb.html ) In addition to emphasizing the dangers of zinc deficiencies in men, and iron deficiencies in women, Dr. Ames is an advocate of supplemental alpha-lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine, and supports the use of high therapeutic doses of B-vitamins.
Dr. Ames is also a senior scientist on the staff of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, with over 500 publications to his name. The very often-quoted, and very busy professor kindly agreed to this special interview conducted by Doctor Yourself publisher Andrew Saul, which is presented below in edited form.
DOCTOR YOURSELF NEWS: Dr. Ames, I am especially interested your thoughts on our often-overlooked need for nutrients. How bad is the Standard American Diet?
Dr. BRUCE AMES: When you drink a soft drink, you get 10 teaspoons of sugar and no vitamins. Obesity is an epidemic. A third of the children coming into Children’s Hospital where I work now are clinically obese. The problem is worse in the poorer populations, chiefly Black and Hispanic. Obese people are at the bottom of the heap for micronutrients because they are eating this lousy diet. And, obese people are inflamed. The gut has all that food fuel, and a lack of micronutrients, which encourages the bad bacteria, the clostridium and others that overwhelm and give you inflammation, and then the bad bacteria start leaking through.”
DY NEWS: New government-sponsored food recommendations call for nine or ten servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Yet there seems to be trouble getting people to eat five. What's wrong?
DY NEWS: Government-sponsored nutrient levels, such as the RDA and DRI, have been widely criticized as being too low. What specific changes in these recommended levels would you support?
DY NEWS: What are some of the major health problems caused by micronutrient deficiency?
RDA for the vitamins and minerals. And the cost of supplements? They are really cheap.
DY NEWS: What aspects of high-dose nutrient therapy show most promise, in your opinion?
DY NEWS: And as for B-vitamin safety?
DY NEWS: What quantities of supplemental nutrients do you personally take daily?
DY NEWS: What public health improvements might result from all Americans taking nutritional supplements?
DY NEWS: Years ago, I showed my college classes some video footage of you being interviewed on national television. You were speaking about what really causes cancer.
DY NEWS: So would you say that, rather than focus on very small amounts of toxic chemicals, we should look at the fact that we are malnourished?
DY NEWS: And that is probably what is really causing cancer?
That’s my guess, yes. If you scare people about a thousand hypothetical minor risks, nobody knows what is important anymore.
DY NEWS: A well-publicized 1998 study was presented to the public as a claim that vitamin C is harmful to DNA. Your thoughts, please?
DY NEWS: Do you take extra vitamin C?
DY NEWS: So a sick body needs more vitamin C?
DY NEWS: What about vitamin C as a treatment for cancer?
DY NEWS: A recent meta-analysis more than suggests that high doses of vitamin E are actually harmful. Your comments?
DY NEWS: How long have you been at UC Berkeley?
DY NEWS: How many graduate students do you supervise?
DY NEWS: Would you please comment on the Juvenon company
( http://www.juvenon.com/about/scientific.htm ) and your interest in its products?
DY NEWS: Should there be RDA/DRI's for alpha-lipoic acid, and acetyl-L-carnitine? If so, in what amounts?
DY NEWS: What advice would you most like to offer to our readers?
DY NEWS: What about vitamin D?
DY NEWS: So if you were asked by the RDA or DRI committee, what would you recommend for a daily intake vitamin D?
DY NEWS: If you had a personal motto, what would it be?
DY NEWS: You are clearly enthusiastic about nutrition research. What drew you into it in the beginning?
DY NEWS: This being the Doctor Yourself Newsletter, what are your thoughts on the shortcomings of modern medicine?
DY NEWS: Do you have any plans for retirement?
Recommended for Further
Increasing Longevity by Tuning-up Metabolism. [B.N. Ames (2005) EMBO Reports, 6: S20-4] (1)
Heme deficiency may be a factor in the mitochondrial and neuronal decay of aging. [H. Atamna, D.W. Killilea, A.N. Killilea, and B.N. Ames (2002) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A, 99: 14807-14812] (2)
Iron deficiency and iron excess damage mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA in rats. [P.W. Walter, M.D. Knutson, A. Paler-Martinez, S. Lee, Y. Xu, F.E. Viteri, and B.N. Ames (2002) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 99: 2264-2269] (3)
Low intracellular zinc induces oxidative DNA damage, disrupts p53, NFkB, and AP1 DNA-binding, and affects DNA repair in a rat glioma cell line. [E. Ho and B.N. Ames (2002) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 99: 16770-16775] (4)
vitamins stimulate variant enzymes with decreased coenzyme-binding affinity
(increased Km): relevance to genetic disease and polymorphisms. [B.N. Ames,
Feeding acetyl-L-carnitine and lipoic acid to old rats significantly improves metabolic function while decreasing oxidative stress. [T.M. Hagen, J. Liu, J. Lykkesfeldt, C.M. Wehr, R.T. Ingersoll, V. Vinarsky, J.C. Bartholomew, and B.N. Ames (2002) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 99: 1870-1875] (6)
Memory loss in old rats is associated with brain mitochondrial decay and RNA/DNA oxidation: partial reversal by feeding acetyl-L-carnitine and/or R-a-lipoic acid. [J. Liu, E. Head, A.M. Gharib, W. Yuan, R.T. Ingersoll, T.M. Hagen, C.W. Cotman, and B.N. Ames (2002) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99: 2356-2361] (7)
mitochondrial oxidative decay: improvement of carnitine acetyltransferase
substrate binding affinity and activity in brain by feeding old rats acetyl-L-carnitine and/or R-a-lipoic acid. [J. Liu,
D. Killilea, and B.N. Ames (2002) Proc. Natl. Acad.
Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at http://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )
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Interview and comments copyright 2006 and prior years by Andrew W. Saul.
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