TA-65 may cause cancer but doesn’t extend life
RevGenetics’ TA-65: A scam?
TA Sciences and RevGenetics guilty of TA-65 supplement fraud, says Consumer Protection Alliance.
Scientific studies on the beneficial properties of TA-65 (Astragaloside IV or Cycloastragenol) have been biased. (From the link: “However, studies on TA-65 are problematic as they are all from persons who can profit.”) And even the biased studies offer no proof that TA Sciences/RevGenetics’ TA-65 product lengthens telomeres or even prevents them from shortening. There are no studies that show lifespan extension in animals either. Even if the product would have some effect in theory, TA Sciences’/RevGenetics’ TA-65 product is under-dosed by orders of magnitude compared to the dose/kg used in animal studies and as such can’t possibly have any biologically active effect. It is important to note that a very large dose of TA-65 in a cell culture is something very different than a very small dose of TA-65 taken orally, where it has to pass through the GI tract, is diluted over the entire body and broken down and filtered by liver and kidneys. All these facts make it near-certain that TA-65 does not confer any health benefits, but what is a real risk is the widely suspected (by expert scientists) ability of TA-65 to promote cancer. As to the studies used by Revgenetics/TA Sciences to support their claims of health benefits of TA-65: As we have been able to ascertain they were all commissioned, sponsored or paid for by the manufacturer T.A. Sciences, its distributor RevGenetics or the owner of Telomerase-related patents Bill Andrews of Sierra Sciences, a major stakeholder in the field.
Studies show that TA-65 does not prolong life
Not even mercenary scientists could find any effect of TA-65 on the lifespan of animals. Due to the commercial motive and poor quality of those rather unremarkable studies, only fringe journals with ties to stakeholders or with questionable business models (“pay-to-publish-anything”) have published any TA-65 studies at all. Those studies found only very minor biochemical effects, often in vitro only or with tiny sample sizes without control group. They never found an increased lifespan, when testing on animals. It is a scientifically proven fact that TA-65 does not measurably extends the life of lab animals.
Even though they do their best to put a positive spin on their results, page 11 of a study commisioned by TA-65 stakeholders admits: “TA-65 administration for 4 months did not change statistically the mean or maximal lifespan of female mice under our experimental conditions.” On page 12 they write: “Dietary supplementation of TA-65 has no effect on lifespan in female mice.” Of course, if a simple increase of an enzyme would increase health (TA Sciences and RevGenetics make all types of claims), genetically optimized-to-the-max as mammals are, evolution would have taken care of that ages ago. The claim of “prolonged healthspan” does not hold water, because if general health is increased there must be an objectively measurable benefit to lab mice. But apart from some biochemical markers of questionable relevance, researchers never found any such benefits. TA-65 treated mice die at the same age or sooner as the control group, and they have the same percentage or more tumors than the control group. A piss-poor result for a supplement costing $700,- a month!
Animal tests show that TA-65 may cause cancer
A disordered telomerase function is a feature of almost all cancers so there is a theoretical risk of oncogene-mediated cancer promotion through the use of telomerase activators such as TA65.
One study‘s title is “The telomerase activator TA-65 elongates short telomeres and increases health span of adult old mice without increasing cancer incidence”. Nowhere in the paper could we locate the number of animals used in the study. As to the claim of not increasing the incidence of cancer, looking at figure C and D on page 12 it is clear that the opposite is true. Figure D shows 40% liver tumors in the control group, whereas the TA-65 group had 60% liver tumors. Figure C shows no adenocarcinoma in the control group, whereas 5% of the TA-65 group developed adenocarcinoma. The TA-65 authors claim that a 50% increase in liver tumors (60% is 1.5 times 40%) is not statistically significant. The authors mention that the administered dose of TA-65 caused a ten-fold TERT expression in the liver. Their study shows that for a 1000% TERT increase, there is a 50% liver tumor increase, corresponding to a 1% increase in the risk of liver cancer per 20% TERT increase. We think this is statistically extremely significant.
Studies on fish already showed the proliferation of tumor cells with increased TERT expression, as per Gonzalez-Suarez et al., 2001; Artandi et al., 2002; Canela et al., 2004; McKay et al., 2008; Tomas-Loba et al., 2008; Rafnar et al., 2009.
There have been efforts to “debunk” the relationship between TA-65 and cancer by people who sell TA-65, such as RevGenetics and Dr. Dave Woynarowski, an internet marketeer in the supplement arena. Those companies use SEO techniques to get their “TA-65 is safe” propaganda high in the search engines. Dr. Woynarowski uses a typical black-hat SEO technique to persuade his readership that TA-65 does not cause cancer: He attracts the attention with an article entitled: “TA-65 causes cancer”, where he writes as the first sentence: “No it does not!”. This is a common search engine optimalisation trick, employed by dodgy internet marketeers. As a medical doctor he knows the impossibility of proving a negative (esp. in this particular case) so his claim is disingenuous. He goes on to claim that the study referenced above found a lifespan increase in TA-65 treated mice, while it repeatedly mentioned that there was no such effect. Woynarowski is a supplement peddler and gives the impression that you can live to 150 years old if you buy his products. There is a lot more money in the supplement business than there is in being a doctor, especially when the doctor has “marketing skillz”.
Scientists: TA-65 does not lengthen telomeres
Carol Greider is one of several scientists who won a Nobel Prize for discovering Telomerase. In 2011 she was asked what she thought about TA Sciences’ claim that TA-65 lengthens telomeres in vivo. She replied that she was unaware of any scientific evidence of such. She also said that orally taken TA-65 is unlikely to be efficacious. Even TA-65 afficionados admit that the TA-65 supplement on the market contains very much lower concentrations than used in lab studies.
TA-65 and dishonest advertising
A particularly unscrupulous vendor of TA-65 is RevGenetics, which uses misleading advertising to give the impression that their product increases lifespan. An example can be read in a “press release” they paid to get published here, where they “congratulate Maria Blasco For Extending Lifespan by 24% Using Telomerase”. The reader may think Revgenetics’ TA-65 product is involved, especially because RevGenetics urges the reader to start taking their product. There are no studies that show increased lifespan using TA-65. On the contrary – all studies done show no increase in lifespan, so it is already known to science that the TA-65 does not in any way increase longevity – not even a tiny bit in small mammals such as mice. This makes TA-65 wholly uninteresting compared to for example C60 in olive oil, which was found to nearly double the lifespan of rats. There are many studies that found a greatly increased lifespan of Lipofullerene C60 (“Buckyballs in oil”) across a wide range of organisms.
iMediaEthics / StinkyJournalism.org exposed RevGenetics’ misleading advertising and notes that the New York Times has banned their ads:
Please note that just as the sellers of TA-65, we are not wholly unbiased because a year ago, Anthony Loera of the main TA-65 vendor RevGenetics attracted our attention by threatening to sue us for millions of dollars for using some pictures of an interview he did with a C60 scientist. RevGenetics and us compete in the Lipofullerene C60 arena, C60 (“buckyballs”) in olive oil. Contrary to TA-65, C60 as a lipofullerene does have solid science behind it. A rat study for example showed a whopping 90% lifespan increase – they killed the last surviving rat after six years because they wanted to publish their spectacular findings before another team would beat them to it. Had they let the rat live, the average lifespan increase would have been more than 90%. C60 in oil threatens RevGenetics’ TA-65 sales. It leaked that Loera planned to use sonication to dissolve the C60, which would compromise the extra virgin oil quality due to heating. RevGenetics only enters a market when they can make massive profits and in the C60 space that’s impossible due to our low prices. They did not manage to sue us out of existence, a libel campaign against the quality of our C60 product failed as well, we rejected a partnership offer, so RevGenetics still focuses on unproven, possibly harmful, but highly profitable (produced in China) products such as TA-65. Meanwhile, we decided to fund community-based research, organized by Longecity, that attempts to replicate the rat longevity results. To anyone who pays attention, it is clear that RevGenetics is only interested in money, not in longevity science, not in providing value-for-money and not in the health of their customers. Complaints about their business practices can be read here, here and here (With the title “Anthony Loera / RevGenetics scam”).
The TA-65 class action cancer lawsuit
A class action lawsuit against the TA-65 manufacturer (PDF), TA Sciences was filed. The lawsuit seeked relief for people who have gotten cancer after taking TA-65, of which the manufacturer claimed that “not a single diagnosis of cancer has been reported”, which one of the plaintiffs, Brian Egan, an employee of the defendant at the time, claims is false, because he notified the defendant of his cancer diagnosis after taking TA-65. The complaint claims, amongst other things, that cancer thrives on Telomerase and TA-65 is thus responsible for an increased likelihood of tumors in those that take it. If that would be correct, TA Sciences and RevGenetics could be guilty product liability as well as deceptive advertising (more on that later in this article). Read the TA-65 lawsuit.
TA-65 pushers got lawsuit pulled
TA Sciences then first fired and then sued Brian Egan for libel. Brian had been taking TA-65 twice daily at their request “to increase your credibility as a TA-65 salesman”. TA Sciences demanded 2 million dollars. Brian then pulled the class action lawsuit. Brian’s defense to the libel suit against him, as well as more interesting documents pertaining the case can be read here.
Reports of cancer after TA-65 use
It is not hard evidence, but there are more and more reports of people and animals developing cancer after taking TA-65.
RevGenetics reported to the FDA & FTC
TA-65’s TA Sciences reported to FDA & FTC
On July 11, 2013, the Consumer Protection Coalition reported Anthony Loera’s company RevGenetics to both the FDA and the Federal Trade commission for dishonest advertising, making medical claims for a food supplement, selling an unapproved drug and selling a potentially tumor-causing product. TA Sciences was reported for the same. The complaint with evidence for a Revgenetics TA-65 scam. The FDA complaint list many scientific studies that support the complaint against TA Sciences and RevGenetics. As it stands, it looks like their TA-65 product is a scam. Noone even knows what exactly it contains. It’s a proprietary product with a proprietary manufacturing process. Considering the inflated price, the unsubstantiated benefits and the risks – buyer beware.