Life Extension Magazine®
Doctor writing notes on comprehensive blood tests

Worst Mistake Made by Longevity Enthusiasts

Readers of Life Extension Magazine® are dedicated health enthusiasts, but too many are making a mistake that results in tragic outcomes. Observations made over a 45-year period reveal easy steps to protect against common degenerative disorders, including type II diabetes.

By William Faloon.

William Faloon
William Faloon

When I founded Life Extension in 1977, our supporters had divergent theories about how to achieve optimal health and longevity.

Many advocated plant-based diets, others aggressive exercise, and some felt a single nutrient would confer meaningful benefits.

I was 22 years old back then. That early age gave me the privilege of observing what happens to widely differing individuals over a 45-year period.

When a Life Extension supporter contracted a premature illness or worse, I often knew a lot about their health history. I garnered more data from their family, physician, and in extreme cases, from autopsies I would arrange.

In virtually every instance, the disease had an underlying cause that was correctable.

What frustrated me is when supporters sent their medical records and asked for a lay opinion.

Many disregarded our suggestions to ask their physician to consider an important medication.

The typical reason was side-effect concerns that did not accurately reflect the low risk/high reward benefit (such as targeting systolic blood pressure under 120 mmHg).

When vascular inflammation, elevated lipids and/or high blood pressure were not corrected, the almost inevitable outcomes were cardiovascular diseases.

Please don’t let this happen to you.

Readers of this magazine have annual blood tests that function as a “report card” on how well they and their doctors have managed their health.

A bad result such as high blood sugar (measured by insulin + A1c + glucose) is often reversible. Yet I still encounter pushback when encouraging clinically validated solutions.

I’m going to describe a tragic case of an educated person whom I identified as having type II diabetes in 2002, but he chose to do nothing about it.

It’s one of many similar observations over the past 45 years.

The origin of many scientific discoveries is an observation combined with meticulous follow-up.

John Snow, MD, is frequently identified as the founder of modern epidemiology.1

In the mid-1800s, cholera ravaged the city of London. Debates raged as to what caused it.

Water being poured into glass that has been treated

Dr. Snow observed higher cholera rates in certain areas of London. He then narrowed it down to specific sources of drinking water.

By translating observations into detailed maps, Dr. Snow identified patterns of cholera occurring in areas where drinking water was contaminated by nearby cesspools.

Dr. Snow did not know that microscopic bacteria caused cholera. The “germ theory” of disease had not yet been recognized. He nonetheless discovered that contaminated water was killing thousands of London residents.2

Few people of Dr. Snow’s era followed his admonition to boil drinking water.

It’s Nearly as Bad Today

Vial labeled with insulin that can be secreted in excess from the pancreas

Rational decision making has not improved much on a relative basis since Dr. Snow’s time.

We live in the midst of an obesity/type II diabetes epidemic.

Even slightly elevated blood glucose silently damages blood vessels.

Sometimes, excess insulin secreted by the pancreas suppresses rising blood sugar levels.

This can cause glucose readings on a blood test to appear “normal,” or glucose may not reach a high enough level to diagnose type II diabetes.

An oral glucose tolerance test can be used to diagnose diabetes but is often not used because it consumes many hours of time. An overlooked ancillary method is to test blood for fasting insulin.

Life Extension believes an ideal fasting insulin level to be less than 5 µIU/mL.

If fasting insulin levels are elevated above 5 µIU/mL this may suggest an early diabetic state, despite glucose and A1c appearing “normal” or not reaching predefined conventional levels to diagnose diabetes.3-5

More practicing physicians today recognize that “prediabetes” causes nearly as much damage as full-blown type II diabetes.

Some physicians argue that the term “prediabetes” should be abolished and that anyone with fasting glucose over 99 mg/dL and/or A1c over 5.7% be treated with lifestyle modifications and drugs like metformin to prevent disease progression.

In 2021, the United States Preventive Task Force (USPTF) recommended screening for prediabetes and type II diabetes in adults aged 35 to 70 years who are overweight or obese.

Physicians were advised by the USPTF to offer patients with prediabetes effective preventive interventions.

These included both lifestyle interventions that focus on diet, physical activity, or both, and metformin to prevent or delay progression to diabetes in persons with prediabetes.6

You Don’t Get to Pick and Choose

Vascular diseases are our Achilles’ heel.

If a person lives long enough, they are likely to encounter arterial damage that predisposes them to stroke, cognitive deficit, heart attack, and/or impaired kidney function.

Pretending Does Not Work

In 2002, I urged an overweight friend to have a blood test panel that included fasting insulin.

When his glucose and A1c readings came back “normal,” he was elated to think he did not have type II diabetes.

I spoiled the day by pointing out that his fasting insulin was nearly 30 uIU/mL. It should ideally be under 5 uIU/mL.

I urged him to initiate metformin and vitamin D and lose some weight.

His comical response to my warning in 2002 was, “I’ll never have a blood test again.”

Move forward to 2016, and my friend started experiencing difficulties with his feet, which is often the first outward symptom of diabetes, i.e., lower leg neuropathy.

By 2018 the chronic foot pain reached a level that motivated him to have a comprehensive blood test. The results came back as full-blown type II diabetes with accompanying markers of vascular inflammation and lipid imbalances.

Several trips to the hospital spared my friend lower-leg amputation, as the nerves in his feet were significantly damaged. At the early age of 64-66, he is virtually crippled with relentless neuropathic pain.

Despite largely controlling his glucose and other diabetic blood markers (after developing severe neuropathy), he proceeded to suffer kidney and heart failure along with a host of other diabetic-related maladies. His feet never stop hurting.

When he complained in 2018-2020 about contracting so many diseases at the same time, I explained that elevated fasting insulin revealed underlying pathologies that were correctable long before clinically defined type II diabetes manifested.

This highly educated individual knows he could have avoided all of this by initiating anti-diabetic lifestyle and medical therapy in 2002.

Comprehensive blood tests can identify more than 17 independent risk factors linked to vascular disease, many of which can be easily corrected if simple steps are taken at the first sign of blood test abnormality.

Having discussed blood test results with Life Extension supporters since 1977, I’ve heard every excuse for why certain risk markers (like elevated LDL cholesterol) aren’t important to correct because the person engages in “other” healthy practices.

I am not a medical doctor, but a mere observer of people’s behavior patterns in response to adverse blood test findings.

People who make the effort to optimize their blood test “report card” derive real-world benefits.

Those who ignore the early warnings are fortunate if they make it to a hospital in time for a stent insertion or other procedure to open a blocked artery in their heart or brain.

Kidney damage is challenging to reverse, yet it can be detected via comprehensive blood testing and mitigated when caught at an early stage depending on the underlying cause.

The bottom line is that aging humans are vulnerable to a host of diseases that are detectable and preventable long before onset of disabilities and premature death.

Comprehensive Blood Tests at Discount Prices

Husband and wife walking on trail that made use of comprehensive blood tests

Hurried physicians order blood tests that don’t always include critical measures of future disease risk.

They also lack the time to fully review results. Patients are often non-compliant with physician-suggested lifestyle and medication treatments.

Life Extension long ago developed Male or Female Blood Test Panels that cost a fraction of what commercial labs charge.

These comprehensive panels provide the best validated tests to assess risk for cardiovascular disorders, cancer, dementia, and organ failure.

Results come back in a few days and Wellness Specialists are available at no charge to discuss results as they relate to the published scientific literature.

I could write a book about my observations of different individuals over the past 45 years who needlessly suffered premature illnesses and death.

The next page describes the tests included in the Male and Female Panels that many of you do yearly…and take actions to correct when abnormalities are detected.

For longer life,

For Longer Life

William Faloon

References

  1. Tulchinsky TH. John Snow, Cholera, the Broad Street Pump; Waterborne Diseases Then and Now. Case Studies in Public Health. 2018:77-99.
  2. Markel H. A piece of my mind. Happy birthday, Dr Snow. JAMA. 2013 Mar 13;309(10):995-6.
  3. Available at: https://www.clinicaladvisor.com/home/topics/diabetes-information-center/fasting-insulin-vs-hemoglobin-a1c-are-we-getting-it-right/. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  4. Johnson JL, Duick DS, Chui MA, et al. Identifying prediabetes using fasting insulin levels. Endocr Pract. 2010 Jan-Feb;16(1):47-52.
  5. Pennings N, Jaber J, Ahiawodzi P. Ten-year weight gain is associated with elevated fasting insulin levels and precedes glucose elevation. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2018 May;34(4):e2986.
  6. Glauber H, Vollmer WM, Nichols GA. A Simple Model for Predicting Two-Year Risk of Diabetes Development in Individuals with Prediabetes. Perm J. 2018;22:17-050.