Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Cellfood DNA RNA, for when you're feeling undermethylated

Tesco have taken leave of their senses. Not only have they returned the 'health' magazine What Doctors Don't Tell You to their shelves but they've partnered with NutriCentre to sell all manner of supplements for no good reason.

One of the products - Cellfood RNA / DNA - claims that it can help your DNA become remethylated, based on the assumption that demethylation is behind aging and that this supplement can extend your life.

The claims are pretty outlandish, here's what I've done about it.

1. Complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (see below)

2. Written to Tesco to #askforevidence:

3. Written this blog post to contribute to raising awareness about odd products being sold by Tesco via NutriCentre

4. Added the relevant sales page to - this will let me see whenever a change is made to the page (it may be a while before I hear back from ASA or Tesco but this lets me know if the page is amended):

Original post
I'm putting together a complaint which I'll send to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) later tonight about a particular product, which just seems to be quite silly.

It's also been suggested that in addition to the ASA complaint I do an 'Ask for Evidence' thing via Sense About Science. Who knows, perhaps a vial of methyl groups is exactly what I need. That would be ironic as one of the things I did in my past life as a lipid biochemist was in fact methylate things (turning fatty acids into fatty acid methyl esters 'fames' for analysis).

Had I known at the time how good methylation was for me I'd have tipped a bit more of the reagents over myself for good measure.

Edit 10pm
--- What I sent after doing a bit more research (red bits are what differs from earlier post) ---

I'm sorry to say I think this product is absolute nonsense and seems to have no redeeming features at all. I don't think it has any value as a health supplement, I don't know if it's likely to be particularly harmful though. It just seems pointless.

Claim 1
"CELLFOOD DNA RNA is the worlds first cellular regenerating formula combining nucleic acid bases (the essential building block on DNA and RNA) Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP - the master energy molecule) methyl groups (regulators and programmers of the aging process)and Cellfood."
- these are apparently the contents of the 30ml vial but I have no idea what form they'll be in once they're absorbed into the bloodstream (assuming that they are) or how they are transported into the nucleus where they might interact with DNA. Is the product supposed to increase methylation specifically or just methylate anything it comes into contact with? Were this product to really work then I think Tesco would be selling something that interacts with the genome - I can't help thinking this is quite a serious situation to be in. I suspect it doesn't really do anything though.

Claim 2
"Anti-aging - Clinical research indicates that biological aging is regulated and programmed by the gradual loss of specific DNA markers known as methyl groups. At the age of 25 most of us have already lost 10% of our DNA methyl groups. When there is a 40% loss degenerative death typically occurs."
- while changes in methylation do have a role in the aging process this text implies that insufficient methylation of DNA is 'game over' and that a grisly death will occur for want of methyl groups. I have some doubts that things are quite that bleak, and I also have serious doubts that the product will do anything to help.

Claim 3
"Longevity studies have shown that no single therapeutic method has increased lifespan more than nucleic acid (DNA RNA) supplementation."
- quite a bold claim, I'd be surprised if this is true or even that it's been demonstrated in human trials.

I'm prepared to consider that nucleic acid supplementation might be therapeutically beneficial in some cases (eg, from 1997 - though very little information is given in that abstract), eg where a person is undergoing intravenous feeding, but I don't think this product does anything to extend life in otherwise normal healthy people. I'd also assume that this product would need to be administered under the care of a doctor. 

NB: Prof David Colquhoun is of the very reasonable opinion that this paper is also hooey, but I've not looked into the matter beyond searching for potentially feasible articles on nucleic acid supplementation.

Claim 4
"CELLFOOD DNA RNA provides the most important nutrient factors for improving DNA methylation which slows or stops the loss of methyl groups."
- Assuming this product can deliver methyl groups to the right spot (doubtful) does remethylating DNA prolong life or increase health? I am extremely doubtful on this and suspect that 'more research is needed' before claims like this can be added to supplement packs.

I'm honestly not sure if Tesco is joking with this product, but I don't think they're able to support these claims.

Thank you,

Sunday, 16 November 2014

London events - apps / websites / listings where you can post an event, find others

by @JoBrodie,

Listings where users can submit a London event include the following

Any event


Film music-related events (global but can be filtered by country / city)