Healthful Living May Lengthen Telomeres And Lifespans

Terry Allen/Corbis The greenish-yellow tips on this human chromosome (No. 16) are telomeres. Terry Allen/Corbis It’s all about the little caps on our chromosomes called telomeres . They work like the plastic tips of shoelaces to protect the ends of chromosomes, the strings of genes in the heart of every cell that tell it what to do. Without telomeres, our cells would lose the ability to divide and would quickly die off . Scientists have been fascinated by telomeres for several decades. In 2009, Elizabeth Blackburn , an author of the new study, shared a Nobel Prize for pioneering work in the field. As people and other animals age, their telomeres get shorter and shorter a well-grounded observation that some scientists think is not only a marker of aging but a fundamental driver of senescence . Study author Dean Ornish of the University of California, San Francisco notes that things that are bad for us accelerate the shortening of telomeres.

Healthy Living

The scientists, from the University of California in the United States, examined changes in the mens telomeres, which are structures that sit at the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres stop DNA within chromosomes from being damaged, but as people grow older they become shorter and cells start to age and die more rapidly. Previous studies have linked the shortening of telomeres to a decrease in life expectancy and a greater risk of age-related diseases such as heart disease, vascular dementia, obesity, stroke, diabetes and various cancers. The new research found that in the group which adopted the lifestyle changes, telomeres lengthened by an average of 10 per cent over five years. The more positive the changes that the men made, the greater the increase in their telomeres lengths.

Healthy living could actually slow down ageing

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