World-Renowned Genius Describes His Longevity ProgramApril 2015
By Michael Downey
Richard “Rick” Rosner is credited with having the world’s second-highest IQ. That ranking very likely under-represents his cognitive abilities.
This Life Extension® member has received the highest scores ever recorded on most of the IQ tests he has taken—and on the IQ test reputed to be the world’s most difficult, the Titan Test. Rosner attained the only perfect score ever recorded.
In this exclusive interview, Rick discusses his unique longevity program and his plans for a very long life.
LE: Rick, you’ve had an eclectic assortment of careers—bouncer, editor of the high-IQ-journal for the Mega society, nude model, quiz show contestant, TV show creator and producer, and comedy writer. Can you tell us about your current projects?
RR: [Recently], I became unemployed after 12 years writing for Jimmy Kimmel Live! But fortunately, I had a book proposal nearly ready to submit. The book, Dumbass Genius, is a memoir about all the ridiculous, non-genius stuff I’ve done. I also have a theory of the universe I’ve been working on for over 33 years that I laid out in a series of online interviews. And my web series starts shooting [soon].
LE: Aside from your television-writing career, you’re well known as the world’s second smartest person. How did you claim this title?
RR: [Actually], I’m listed as having the world’s second-highest IQ at the World Genius Directory (http://psiq.org/), which isn’t the same as being the world’s second-smartest person. I’ve taken more than 30 of the world’s most difficult IQ tests and earned the highest-ever score on about 20 of them… I really should have points subtracted from my IQ for wasting so much time on IQ tests.
LE: Your high-end IQ scores rose significantly over time, which seems unusual. How do you explain this?
RR: When I was a kid, my IQ scores never went much above 150, partly because tests themselves didn’t measure much above 150. Later, people created tests to measure ultra-high IQs, and I started scoring in the 170s, then 180s, and occasionally the 190s. Some studies suggest that certain aspects of intelligence decline about 1% a year after peaking in your late 20s. Scientists and mathematicians are said to often make their greatest contributions in their 20s and 30s. There are various possible reasons for this, but if it’s partly due to decline in brain function, I want to fight that with supplements.
LE: Do you think supplements have been making you smarter over the years?
RR: My intent has always been to keep the brain function I already have as long as possible. If I can avoid much of [the brain-function decline], then I’ll have increased my intelligence relative to people my age. Until my mid-40s, I could get by with exercise and diet, but it’s good that I discovered supplements because exercise and diet wouldn’t be sufficient indefinitely. I feel as good in my mid-50s as I did in my mid-40s, and there must be a bunch of people who can’t say that. What’s the point of experience if your brain’s too gummed-up to access it? PET scans of people with illnesses related to unhealthy eating and lack of exercise show dimmed-out brain function. Get them to clean up their act, and their brains light up again.
LE: How did you develop your supplement program? Based on what information?
RR: In the 80s, I started taking the standard vitamins—C and E—and sometimes whatever was on the half-price rack at vitamin stores, plus predigested protein to support weight training. In 2005, I read Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman’s book, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, listing many of the 150 or so supplements Kurzweil takes, and I began building a serious supplement regimen. Since then, I’ve added more supplements based on Internet research and Life Extension® magazine articles. I’m currently taking about 40 different supplements. I want to maintain my ability to learn and think—I think healthy habits and supplements are my best shot at doing that.
LE: Do you think your program could help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s?
RR: I think it improves my chances. Nothing’s certain…tomorrow I could be T-boned by a texting teen in an SUV. Alzheimer’s doesn’t run in my family and the only risk groups I belong to are being in my 50s and having taken a few head punches while working in bars. We may understand how to treat Alzheimer’s in 15 years. I’m hoping that my regimen at least holds it off long enough for effective treatments to be developed.
LE: Please tell us about the prescription and nonprescription supplements you take to promote brain health.
RR: Supplements and habits that promote general health also promote brain health. The two cheapest, easiest daily rituals for general health are flossing and taking a half- or quarter-tablet of a baby aspirin each day for blood thinning and to fight inflammation. The only brain drug with an indisputable, immediate effect is coffee. Compounds I take for long-term brain maintenance include phosphatidylserine, Cognitex® from Life Extension ®, DMAE, aminoguanidine, centrophenoxine, piracetam or aniracetam, and occasionally, vinpocetine.
LE: You take either piracetam or aniracetam. What has been your experience with these “smart drugs” (nootropics)?
RR: I took piracetam every workday for a few years. Then something happened with the FDA, and piracetam became more expensive, and you couldn’t buy it on Amazon or eBay. So I switched to aniracetam. But I haven’t been taking it much because I’m not writing jokes for TV right now, where you have to think fast. Now that my jokes are in tweet form, I’m taking only six or seven brain supplements instead of eight or nine.
LE: Have you noticed that Cognitex® helps mental function?
RR: What I’ve noticed is no obvious cognitive decline. I’m getting to the age where people start becoming forgetful, but I experience no more forgetfulness than in the past. I think as clearly as ever. I don’t know how, specifically, to account for this—I’d guess it’s a combination of supplements, exercise, food discipline, and luck.
LE: Of all your supplements, methylene blue, which is a dye, has to be the most obscure. What are its benefits and how does it work?
RR: Methylene blue is my weirdest supplement. About five years ago, Phase II trials showed methylene blue had reduced progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by 90%. They’re currently in Phase III trials. It has been used for over a century as a surgical dye, a malaria treatment, and an antifungal agent for fish. In brains that are breaking down, dead brain cells spit out sticky protein called amyloid, which chokes more cells, which spit out more amyloid. One way they think methylene blue works—if it does—is by acting on amyloid as a kind of detergent, making the strands less stuck-together and more [easily cleared] by natural brain processes. Because it’s so unproven and I’m not in any dementia risk groups—except for some punches to the face as a bouncer—I don’t take methylene blue every day. One fun thing is it turns your urine bright emerald green!
LE: You also take metformin, although you don’t have diabetes. Can you explain its importance?
RR: Metformin is one of my favorite drugs/supplements. It helps your body use insulin more efficiently and reduces blood sugar spikes. Your body is kind of a slow cooker, and high blood sugar “cooks” you quicker. Along with resveratrol, metformin’s one of the few drugs that seem to act as a calorie-restriction mimetic. When you practice calorie restriction, your body switches into slower-aging mode. But calorie restriction isn’t much fun, so if you can trick your body into thinking it’s calorie-restricted, great! Resveratrol seems to do this. Unfortunately, when you take resveratrol orally, your liver knocks out most of it. This doesn’t happen with metformin. Studies show metformin may also reduce cancer risk.
LE: Explain why you take the prescription drug Avodart® (dutasteride).
RR: Avodart® knocks out DHT, a form of testosterone that makes your prostate blow up and your hair fall out. It seems to keep my hair attached to my head and my prostate in decent shape, despite my sit-down job, which can be hard on your prostate. Your body makes two forms of DHT and Avodart ® knocks down both of them—Propecia® and Proscar® only block one form of DHT, so I prefer Avodart®. It seems to leave the rest of your testosterone alone—my level is in the mid-700s, which is good for a guy in his 50s.
LE: And the prescription drug metoprolol?
RR: Metoprolol is my beta-blocker. I’m one of those people whose blood pressure is tied to emotions. Because it’s an adrenalin blocker, it keeps me from getting overly worked-up. Without it, my blood pressure might be in the 130s over 90s, especially in Los Angeles traffic. With metoprolol, it’s in the 100s over 60s—which is associated with longevity and not having the feeling your head’s gonna pop.
LE: Have you made supplement recommendations to others you know?
RR: I tell a lot of people to try fiber gummies and carb blockers, which help move food through your body without full absorption. Most people struggle not to take in more food than their bodies need. Fiber gummies and carb blockers can replace a bit of food discipline. Besides that, my enthusiasm for supplements is mostly inflicted on my wife and dog.
LE: In recent years, you started drinking coffee every day—for what benefits?
RR: Coffee’s the only brain drug that shows me on a daily basis that it works. I started drinking coffee about two-and-a-half years ago. [Now I can] work straight through the day with little fatigue. Coffee doesn’t make me smarter, but it makes me chattier—helpful for yelling out jokes [as a comedy writer]—and more focused.
LE: Do you think your rather extreme exercise routine slows body and brain aging?
RR: The amount of exercise I do isn’t particularly crazy—80 to 100 sets daily on weight machines. What’s crazy is that I have a [daily] circuit of five gyms, using my favorite machines at each. I’ve missed only 55 days at the gym in 30 years, the most recent missed day being January 20, 1991. Studies indicate working out has longevity benefits. I’d guess I’m at least a decade younger physiologically than chronologically. And working out helps me with stress and focus. Working on a daily TV show, I had to support my health to help my concentration. I got more sleep, quit moonlighting, and dropped my body fat—which had crept to 12%—back down to 6%. I became increasingly productive and supplements helped me hold up under a hefty workload.
LE: Can you describe the thinking that led you to your comprehensive supplement routine?
RR: My main motivation has been to live as long as possible, to see all the cool science fiction stuff in the future. It stinks to be among the last few generations of people who are biologically obligated to age and die. There are people alive now who will still be alive 150 years from now, and if they’re alive in 2165, they have an excellent shot at living as long as they want. To live a very long time, you don’t need to live until everyone can live forever. You only need to live long enough that for every year you live, medical science can extend your life by yet another year. (I think that’s a Ray Kurzweil idea.)
LE: Do you believe it’s possible to substantially extend healthy human life span?
RR: Using existing medical knowledge, I believe you can give yourself a fair chance of making it to 100. I think someone who’s obsessive about controlling all aging factors, even more than I do, might slow aging by 30% or more. Doing that across 60 years from age 20 to age 80, you might hit 80 with the physiological profile of an average 60-year-old person, with a one-in-four chance of making it to 100. And that’s just using current knowledge and tech. We’re on the verge of a biotech revolution. Some people wear fitness wristbands to monitor their physical activity—within 10 years, healthy people will wear monitors that read blood levels and offer advice. Within 20 years, wearable monitors will medicate healthy people on a real-time basis. Gene therapy should roll back some of the more absolute aging limits. By century-end, we should see a few Baby Boomers or Gen Xers who’ve made it into their 130s.
LE: How did you develop your antiaging program, and what were your key findings?
RR: Like everyone, I use the Internet and try to separate reasonable information from fantasy. Life Extension® magazine is helpful. You always back up claims with a zillion studies. My findings? Don’t always rely on your doctor—do your own research. Most doctors don’t specialize in supplementation, and the normal ranges of blood-test values aren’t always optimal. Look at many sources. On the Internet, it’s hard to know if sources are accurate. Tell your doctor what you’re doing. Floss and take aspirin. Watch your blood pressure—closer to 100/60 is probably better than 120/80. There are good blood pressure meds if you can’t get your BP down [naturally]. Watch your blood glucose—80 or below is optimal.
Make your diet, exercise, and supplementation routine as easy as possible. If it’s a pain, you’ll likely quit. Stay up to date in your research. New findings come along all the time. Factor in cost-effectiveness factors…what I spend on supplements has to be thousands of dollars a year. You should be pooping frequently and easily. Fiber helps. I think fiber gummies are the easiest way to get it. Try carb blockers—if taken before meals, they prevent your body from absorbing about 25% of carbs it normally would. Avoid fat blockers by peeling most cheese off your pizza—it’ll still taste like pizza. Without being a nuisance, get your family involved. My wife, who loves to cook, learned to make healthy, tasty meals. I combine about 20 different supplements into capsules for our dog—she seems more alert since I increased the brain drugs in her dog pills. If you enjoy going out for meals with your significant other, try splitting an entrée.
LE: You’re now 54. With your extensive program—how many more birthdays do you hope to have?
RR: My exemplar is Jack LaLanne, who made it to 96. But he didn’t eat sugar for the last 80 years of his life—I’m not that disciplined. That’d give me 42 more years, during which time I hope medical science will come up with ways to add some bonus years to that.
LE: We hope so too. Thanks.
RR: Thank you.
Readers interested in Rosner’s memoirs should watch for the release of his new book, Dumbass Genius, in 2016. Meanwhile, you can follow him on Twitter @dumbassgenius.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.