What good is wealth if we don’t have our health to enjoy it?
That was the question on my mind last August when I traveled to La Jolla, California, to visit a company called Human Longevity. From my perspective, it’s the future of health care.
My research into the longevity movement led me to Human Longevity, San Diego. What an amazing discovery. From my perspective, Human Longevity is the future of health care. There is no place on earth like it, and it is a lens on the future… not only for our health but for the future of the industry. It functions on the bleeding edge of preventive medicine. It’s the opposite of what our health care system is today. It doesn’t treat our symptoms… it finds them before we have them.
This time, my research was a bit different. Rather than a company or technology being the focus of my attention, the subject was me. I flew to San Diego to put myself through the tests and diagnostics so that I could deeply understand what the future looks like. I was the one being poked and prodded this time. And my crazy idea to do so may very well have saved my life.
I first learned about Human Longevity back in 2014. That’s when I noticed an investment made by genetic sequencing giant Illumina into a company called Human Longevity. The mission of Human Longevity was seemingly straightforward: to evaluate the human condition from head to toe (our phenotype) and compare that to a whole genome sequence – an analysis of all 3.2 billion base pairs of our human DNA. By doing so, it is possible to map our genetic structure to our current or future conditions.
Why is this so invaluable? It empowers us to understand our current and future risk for disease, what kind of medications we will respond well to, and even medications that would have adverse effects on us due to our genetic structure. Knowing these things in advance can be lifesaving. It also empowers us to make adjustments in our lifestyles to avoid a certain “fate” that we otherwise would have been faced with down the road. The mission of Human Longevity and Human Longevity was so compelling to me that I actually visited back in 2015 to research the facility. Knowing what I know now, I regret having not put myself through the Human Longevity 100+ program at that time. Over the last five years, there always seemed to be a scheduling conflict, another business trip, too many balls in the air, and so on to just lock in a date to visit. The experience is incredible, but I’ll be the first to admit it is not for everyone.
Blood… lots of blood
I wasn’t even sure if I would have enough left to make it through the day.
That’s how my day at Human Longevity started. After a fast from the evening before, the first thing that the team needs to do is capture your blood. It is a great way to get a snapshot of what our system looks like on any given day. But this isn’t the kind of blood test that our family doctor orders to check in on our cholesterol. It’s a completely different approach. Rather than looking for a specific marker that might explain a symptom or checking if we To me, these numbers are remarkable. And they perfectly have influenza A or B (or COVID-19, for that matter), the team at Human Longevity looks for anything that may reveal something is wrong or even a bit off kilter. More than 40 different blood biomarkers are tested for things like kidney and liver function, insulin sensitivity, glucose levels, a detailed cholesterol panel, biomarkers for inflammation, hormones, vitamins, nutrients, heavy metals, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) values, lipids, and more. The analysis even looked at more than 900 metabolites, which is what is left over after the body has metabolized food – that’s one of the reasons why we fast before the blood is drawn. When the results came back, I had nine detailed pages of analysis. And yes, I needed some help to interpret all of the data.
What came next was one of the highlights of my visit, something that I had genuinely been excited about… a full- body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. This isn’t something that we would typically ever do. After all, if we are having terrible shoulder pain and can’t lift our arm above our head, the orthopedist orders a shoulder- specific MRI. The doctor will just focus on where the symptom is presenting. At Human Longevity, the goal is to take a very detailed whole- body view to see if anything is of concern. And when I say detailed, I mean it. The typical MRI that most of us experience uses a 1.5 Tesla (1.5 T) machine. A Tesla is the unit of measurement for the strength of the magnetic field of the MRI scanner. But the full-body MRI scan at Human Longevity uses a 3 Tesla scanner. As we can easily discern, the 3 T scanner is twice the strength of the 1.5 T scanner. As a result, it produces incredibly clear images of our bodies.
Worth mentioning is that the MRI scanners are completely safe. In that regard, the 3 T machine is no different than the 1.5 T machine. But the real value comes from the ridiculous level of detail in the images after the MRI scan has been performed. The full-body scan typically takes about 90 minutes – and sometimes more for those who need a break between scans. I definitely benefited from stretching my legs a couple of times during the process.
The imaging starts with an extremely detailed scan of the brain. The resolution enabled the MRI to map out the brain’s blood vessels. The scan is capable of finding an aneurysm as small as 3 millimeters in diameter. My wife was convinced that they would find something wrong up there… but I proved her wrong and received a glowing readout on my brain scan. Ha! After the brain, the process is repeated for the cardiovascular system. I’m not kidding when I say that the machine takes the equivalent of a high-definition video of the four chambers of the heart. After the scan has been completed, we can literally see our heart functioning. And, of course, the physicians can determine with remarkable accuracy how well our cardiovascular system is functioning.
Ultimately, the MRI produces a full-body analysis of our body composition. It can “see” how much muscle and fat we are carrying. We can understand with specificity how much subcutaneous fat (the fat visible under our skin) we have. And even more valuable is how much visceral fat we are “hiding” inside. The visceral fat is the fat that surrounds our vital organs. We may not be able to see it, but it is the more dangerous of the two. Too much visceral fat is associated with cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and inflammation, all of which dramatically weaken our immune systems and even make us susceptible to an airborne virus like COVID-19.
I’d like to mention that my visit to this facility has made clear the investment opportunity in the precision medicine space. Investment trends like genetic sequencing and genetic editing are on the rise. For investors who haven’t taken a position, now is the time.
After the full-body MRI, it was time for my computerized axial tomography scan (CAT scan). I remember when we used to call them CAT scans, but these days they tend to be called CT scans. These CT scanners simply take X-ray images from many different angles. Then computers combine these images to create cross sections that allow us to “see” inside the body in a way we couldn’t with a normal X-ray. This particular scan looks at the cardiovascular system. More specifically, it is used to measure the amount of calcified plaque in the arteries of our heart. This allows the team to quantify a coronary calcium score, a useful indicator of our cardiovascular health. In short, the more plaque that is found in this scan, the higher our risk is of having a heart attack.
Next up was my echocardiogram and electrocardiogram (EKG), which I’m sure many of us have had done before. The echocardiogram uses ultrasound to measure the size and shape of our heart. When used properly, it can accurately calculate the pumping strength of the left ventricle. It can also detect early signs of heart valve disease and any hypertrophy (thickening) of the heart muscle. The EKG analyzes our heartbeat to determine if it is irregular, too fast or slow. Measuring the electrical energy that travels through our heart is also a useful diagnostic measurement for hypertrophy or fatigue. Any one of these tests can give us a few data points on our cardiovascular health but not the complete picture. That’s why Human Longevity collects all of the data from the MRI, the CT scan, the echocardiogram, and the EKG to generate a complete picture of our cardiovascular health. And that’s exactly the point. If we don’t have a complete picture of our health, we may very well be missing something. And that “something” could be quite serious and materially affect our longevity.
My last major diagnostic test at Human Longevity in La Jolla, CA, was a bone densitometry scan. This is also known as a DEXA, which stands for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. DEXA is definitely easier to say. The DEXA is by far the most comfortable diagnostic test that I have ever experienced. It looks just like a bed with a scanner that runs over you from head to toe. The DEXA is able to collect a full “picture” of our body’s bone, fat, tissue, and muscle mass. It is a fairly simple and effective tool for diagnosing osteoporosis and our risk for osteoporotic fractures. Obviously, if our bone mineral density is too low, the team at Human Longevity can put a plan in place to improve bone strength and avoid an unwanted outcome. When we combine the output of the DEXA with full-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), we really get a clear picture of our muscle mass, bone strength, subcutaneous and visceral fat. And we might even discover something like a fracture that we didn’t know existed.
And this brings me to the key point – proactively finding problems with our own health that we never knew about. Consider this: 25% of us who live to 55 will not make it to 75 years of age. I don’t know about you, but those aren’t odds that I’m comfortable with. And just to be clear, I’m not talking about a death from a car accident or our parachute not opening up. These are deaths from cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurological diseases, respiratory diseases, diabetes, and many other things. But if we know about these factors and our risk, we actually have the ability to create completely different outcomes. That’s why the program is called 100+.
Now, if the statistic above didn’t catch your attention, I have even more to share with you that will. The teams at Human Longevity and the Human Longevity published some unbelievable research earlier this year. The work is titled “Precision medicine integrating whole- genome sequencing, comprehensive metabolomics, and advanced imaging.” This research was years in the making. It analyzed the results from 1,190 adults who went through the same testing that I did… and here is what they found:
- 17% had a rare genetic mutation that affects their health
- 7% discovered they had moderate-to-severe cardiovascular risk
- 28% had elevated liver fat, which was mostly non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- 2.5% discovered they had body or brain aneurysms
- 1.7% discovered that they had cancer
And at a higher level:
- 14.4% discovered major health issues that were actionable, let’s think about that. Out of 1,000 people, 144 found major health problems they didn’t know about
- And 40%, or 400 out of 1,000 discovered things that required medical attention or regular monitoring but weren’t yet life threatening.
This explains why one out of every four adults who reach 55 never make it to 75. We simply don’t know what’s wrong. And if we don’t know, we can’t take positive actions to heal ourselves. And this is precisely what is broken with the world’s current, conventional methodology for practicing medicine. Ironically, treating symptoms as we do today (“sick care”) is far more expensive and costs many more lives than the kind of bleeding-edge approach taken by Human Longevity.
There was a dark blob on the MRI scan.
And as I’ve been sharing, my experience with Human Longevity has convinced me more than ever in the potential of precision medicine and biotechnology. And there it was… Like a beacon, I didn’t need any training to see it. An ominous, dark blob on my magnetic imaging resonance (MRI) scan in the area of my pelvis. Cancer. I was in the 1.7%.
I sat down with Dr. David Karow, the president and chief of radiology at Human Longevity, at the end of my visit. He walked me through the first pass of imaging taken throughout the day. The lesion found during the MRI indicated a high likelihood of prostate cancer. Dr. Karow was certain of it, and he was right. It wasn’t what I expected. After all, my trip to Human Longevity wasn’t because I was ill. In fact, I didn’t have a single health concern before my trip to La Jolla. My goal was to put myself through the process so that I could research bleeding-edge approaches to predictive medicine, genetics, and human longevity.
I’m young, active, and train three or four times a week. I’m strong, energetic, and a third-degree blackbelt in Shotokan karate. I consume a gluten-free version of a largely Japanese-style diet full of fish and vegetables. It just didn’t make sense at all. And that’s precisely the point of the Human Longevity program. There was no reason to justify me getting a full-body MRI or even a prostate-specific MRI. The cancer would have likely gone unnoticed for years, and it could have potentially cost me my life. As Dr. Karow walked me through the specifics, the natural thing that came to mind was, “Okay, what’s next”?
It’s disheartening to know that there will be a raft of tests, biopsies, blood tests, and hospital visits to follow. But it is also an empowering feeling, knowing that there are positive actions to create a better outcome. And the great news is that we found the cancer early. My visit to Human Longevity was in the first week of August 2020. Needless to say, I have been very busy managing my health since then. But what happened after I left Human Longevity is equally important to share. Dr. Karow and I agreed that we needed to get a prostate- specific MRI as soon as possible. That would provide the imaging necessary for a biopsy. With his help, we identified a urologist not far from where I lived who specializes in MRI/Ultrasound fusion biopsy, which uses MRI images to help guide where the samples are taken. When used properly, this technique improves the odds that the cancerous tissue is taken from the lesion during the biopsy. When I first met with the urologist, I was told that it was “highly unlikely” that I had prostate cancer. It was a tense discussion, and I had to push to get the support to authorize a prostate-specific MRI. At the time, a biopsy was out of the question.
It wasn’t a surprise to me when the prostate MRI came back confirming what we found at Human Longevity, which resulted in a biopsy. And the biopsy confirmed what we already knew back in August. I’m sharing these details with you because I want to demonstrate that we must take ownership of our own health. If I had listened to the urologist – one of the best in his field– that it was “highly unlikely” I was sick and that we should just monitor the situation over time, the cancer would have had the chance to spread, grow, and potentially expand to my bones. That’s when things get really ugly.
It’s not easy to push back when we believe that we’re sitting down with an expert. But with the support of Dr. Karow, who even got on the phone to push for earlier appointments and tests, I was able to avoid a common trap of conventional medicine – that my symptoms weren’t significant enough to warrant attention.
And there’s more… My other partner through this whole process has been Dr. Mona Ezzat-Velinov, a specialist in integrative and functional medicine. She took all of the data that we collected at Human Longevity and combined it with the additional diagnostics we performed after I left to understand my entire health condition. With her help, I’ve stripped out any and all foods that have even a remote link to prostate cancer. Since my visit, I haven’t had any dairy products, gluten, beef, pork, lamb, and almost zero processed sugar. I call it my “bird diet.” I subsist on nuts, seeds, seaweed, fish, copious amounts of vegetables, and herbal tea throughout the day.
Why so extreme? Because I want to get better. I have a family that needs me. And if I have a shot at eradicating the cancer and beating it with nutrition, diet, and exercise, then it is worth the effort. If at all possible, I want to avoid a radical surgery or radiation of any kind. The funny part is that I felt good when I went to Human Longevity, but I feel even better now. I’ve lost almost 30 pounds in less than three months. It hasn’t been easy, but I need to reduce my visceral fat quickly. One way or another, I’m confident that I’m going to be fine. I didn’t miss any work through this whole mess either. As long as I had something scheduled that would help us understand my condition better, then work was a welcome distraction. And with clear dietary and weight goals, I have something that I can aggressively work toward.
I’m grateful to Dr. David Karow and Dr. Mona Ezzat-Velinov for being such great partners through this process. The Human Longevity 100+ program is like nothing else on the planet – clearly, I’ve experienced the value myself. And we need it to succeed in its mission if we are to change the way that health care works today. I wish the program were more accessible, but I am certain that, over time, access to this kind of preventative health care will increase significantly and eventually become the standard.
And thanks to all of you who have read along with me on my journey. You have shared one of your most valuable assets – your time – which is why I have chosen to share my experience with you. And if I could wish one thing for my readers, it’s that you all live in good health to 100+.
“You are on the bleeding edge now.. you are the science.”
It wasn’t what I was expecting to hear, but I couldn’t have imagined hearing anything better. I had returned to Human Longevity for my six-month checkup after discovering I had prostate cancer during what I thought would be just a very detailed, routine health checkup last August. Last year, I traveled to La Jolla, CA, to the world’s leading center for preventative medicine and human longevity, Human Longevity. I simply wanted to research the bleeding edge of health care. So I thought the best way to learn was to actually go through the process myself. It was a way to see and understand the future of health care and human longevity.
It has been a humbling experience, and it wasn’t at all what I expected. I arrived last August feeling great. I was fit, energetic, and unaware of any health issues of any kind. In fact, I hadn’t felt so good in at least a decade. It wasn’t until I sat down with Dr. David Karow, President and Chief of Radiology at Human Longevity, after a day of testing that I discovered I wasn’t so healthy after all. My liver fat was above 25%. My body mass index (BMI) was 34.2. I had dangerous levels of visceral fat and was likely pre-diabetic. And thanks to Dr. Karow, we discovered that I had prostate cancer. I was shocked. After all, I thought I was too young and healthy to have cancer. Aside from exercising three to four times a week, I rarely ever ate processed foods, only consumed natural and organic foods, mostly stayed away from sugar, and slept well.
But the cancer was visible to the eye. It wasn’t up for dispute. It was a dark, ominous blob that didn’t look like it belonged. And it set a series of difficult steps in motion…
Assembling my treatment plan
After confirming the diagnosis through a biopsy, I put a plan in place with Dr. Karow and my physician at Human Longevity, Dr. Mona Ezzat-Velinov. Because we found it early, I had the opportunity to attack the cancer using my own immune system. But in order to do so, I had to make radical changes to my diet and exercise routine. Instead of weightlifting and kettlebells, I had to make intense cardiovascular exercise the foundation of my weekly routine. Due to my liver fat and visceral fat levels, I needed to dramatically drop my weight and reduce my visceral fat. The only way that was going to happen was through hard work, several times a week. I chose rowing, as it uses about 86% of all muscles. And for those willing to row hard, it really burns calories. After five months of training, I managed to row 10,000 meters in just 41 minutes and 21 seconds. For those who haven’t rowed before, I’ll just say this… It’s not easy..
I also radically changed my diet. I stopped eating all gluten, processed sugar, dairy products, and high-glycemic foods. And for the first four months, I cut out any alcohol consumption. I also intermittently fasted every day and reduced my overall caloric intake. I felt great after six months of really hard work and sacrifice. But the truth was that I had been procrastinating my return visit to Human Longevity. And if it wasn’t for the persistence of Dr. Ezzat-Velinov, I probably wouldn’t have returned in February. I was scared what the tests would show. I knew my lab results would show a dramatic improvement, and that my liver fat and visceral fat had dropped, but I had no idea about the cancer. And the most devastating thought that I had was… After all this sacrifice, what if there was no positive impact on the cancer? In other words, it may have been all for nothing.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Great news from the Human Longevity
I sat down with Dr. Karow and Dr. Ezzat-Velinov after completing my tests. Dr. Karow said, “I have good news and more good news.” That was a good way to start. My numbers were fantastic. I dropped my liver fat from above 25% to just 5.2%. They told me they had never seen anyone do that so quickly. My BMI had dropped to a healthy level at 29.7. And I had dropped 4.28 liters of abdominal fat and 45 pounds of weight from my peak. But the incredible news was that the tumor had not grown and, most importantly, the MR imaging biomarker of tumor aggressiveness had actually improved. By making these lifestyle changes, I had actually started the process of reversing the cancer.
When Dr. Karow showed the images to me and explained what had happened, I broke down and cried. It wasn’t that I was scared of death. I had just been worried that the cancer would have grown and required more aggressive treatment, which would have unwanted, lifelong consequences. The results were precisely the motivation that I needed to keep fighting it and potentially reverse the cancer entirely. That’s why “I am the science” right now. We’re trying to prove that with the right lifestyle, nutrition, and exercise, we can empower our bodies to do something remarkable… and ultimately live past 100 in good health.
I continue to focus on further reducing my visceral fat and liver fat, and we’re working on improving my gut microbiome. These things are critical to having a strong immune system. And I’m now supplementing my routine with regular infrared sauna therapy. The second six months have been much easier than the first six. My body has adjusted, and the truth is that I feel like I’m in my twenties again. And my mental acuity feels sharper than ever before. And unlike this February, I can’t wait to return for my next visit in August. I plan on returning every six months until I have this thing beat. That way, we can make adjustments along the way and show evidence of the impact that my changes are having on reversing the cancer. If I made this much progress in the first six months, I know that I can do so much more.
I’ve met and heard from many Bleeding Edge readers who have already gone to Human Longevity. It’s incredible and motivating to me that so many have taken advantage of this amazing facility, its science, and, of course, the fantastic team there that makes it all happen and stays on the bleeding edge of health and human longevity.
When Mr. Brown returned to Human Longevity for follow-up imaging in February 2020, it appeared that his hard work and dedication to a new lifestyle were having the desired effect. His imaging allows us to be cautiously optimistic that the change in lifestyle is enabling his body to detoxify and to remove the cancer supportive environment.
In the imaging from Mr. Brown’s August 2020 visit, the tumor in his prostate was classified PIRADS 4, meaning that it was highly suspicious for malignancy. On his return visit in February 2021, on follow up imaging the clients ADC (a marker of tumor aggressiveness) had increased (improved). More follow up and more data will be required to understand the long-term implication of this change and whether, in fact, the cancer progression has been mitigated.
About Jeff Brown and Brownstone Research
Neither I nor Brownstone Research have any relationship at all with Human Longevity. We receive no compensation of any kind for writing about my experience there. I paid full price to go through the program. My only interest was to research what I felt to be the most advanced preventative medicine and human longevity clinic on the planet.