Size Does Matter
Lose weight, exercise, eat right… and measure your telomeres? You probably haven’t thought about your chromosomes for a while, but they do have a large impact on your health and telomeres play an important role in keeping your chromosomes functioning appropriately.
Discovery of telomeres
Telomeres are structures on the end of chromosomes that help prevent chromosome deterioration and aid replication. Barbara McClintock and Hermann Muller discovered telomeres in the 1930s, when they found these chromosome end-caps shorten each time a cell divides. Telomere research progressed in the 1970s, when Elizabeth Blackburn discovered these structures prevent deterioration and aid replication. In 2009, Elizabeth Blackburn and other leading experts in telomere science and aging were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of telomeres and the telomerase enzyme.
Telomeres influence the aging process
Telomere studies have become a popular topic of discussion in more recent years, as these small structures provide significant insight into the aging process on a cellular level. A human cell contains 92 telomeres. Every time a cell divides, telomeres shorten to eventually become too small for a chromosome to replicate. When this occurs, a cell becomes old and dies – a process known as apoptosis. Cellular dysfunction and aging develop when chromosomes reach apoptosis.
Why do cells need to divide? Our cells divide to regenerate tissue, bones, blood, skin, and other cells. A primary function for telomeres is to help cells divide without losing important genes in the process.
It has been suggested that maintaining telomere length can deter the rate of aging and chronic diseases associated with aging. 1 Heart disease, cancer, weight gain, and other ailments have all been related to shorter telomere length. People over 60 years old with exceedingly short telomeres were three times more likely to die from heart disease and eight times more likely to die from an infectious disease. 2,3 Researchers found that telomere length was associated with gait speed in elderly women, as those with longer telomeres had a faster pace. 4 Weight gain, obesity, and many forms of cancer have also correlated with shorter telomeres. 5,6,7
What maintains telomere length? Telomere structures are maintained by an enzyme known as telomerase. This enzyme reduces cellular division, but as cells continue to divide, the telomerase enzyme declines and is unable to rebuild telomere length. When this occurs, cells age more rapidly.
Not surprising, researchers find that healthy lifestyle habits, such as a nutrient-rich diet, exercise, stress management, and deterring free radical damage may help telomeres maintain their length. A pilot study among men found that those who implemented healthy lifestyle changes (diet, stress management, social support, and physical activity) had an increase in telomere length after a 5 year follow-up. 8
Research continues to expand in the field of telomere science and so does the identification of telomerase-activating nutrients. The primary causes of telomere shortening has been linked to a loss of the telomerase enzyme, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Along with healthy lifestyle changes, scientists are finding telomere length can be sustained through nutritional protocols, including TELO-100 with T-Activator 150. This nutritional supplement provides a comprehensive supply of natural compounds that influence the factors related to telomere length.
1 De Meyer T, Rietzschel ER, De Buyzere ML, et al. Studying telomeres in a longitudinal population based study. Front Biosci. 2008; 13: 2960–2970.
2 Njajou OT, Hsueh WC, Blackburn EH, Newman AB, et al. Association between telomere length, specific causes of death, and years of healthy life in health, aging, and body composition, a population-based cohort study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med. 2009 Aug; 64(8):860-864.
3 Cawthon RM, Smith KR, O’Brien E, Sivatchencko A, Kerber RA. Association between telomere length in blood and mortality in people aged 60 years or older. Lancet. 2003 Feb; 361(9355):393-395.
4 Lee JY, Bang HW, Ko JH, et al. Leukocyte telomere length is independently associated with gait speed in elderly women. Maturitas. 2013 Apr 5.
5 Njajou OT, Cawthon RM, Blackburn, EH, Harris TB, et al. Shorter telomeres are associated with obesity and weight gain in the elderly. Int J Obes. 2011 Oct 18.
6 Wentzensen IM, Mirabello L, Pfeiffer RM, Savage SA. The association of telomere length and cancer: a meta-analysis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011 Jun; 20(6):1238-1250.
7 Shay JW, Wright WE. Hallmarks of telomeres in aging research. J of Pathol. 2007 Jan; 211(2):114-123.
8 Ornish D, Lin J, Chan JM, et al. Effect of comprehensive lifestyle changes on telomerase activity and telomere length in men with biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer: 5-year follow-up of a descriptive pilot study. Lancet Oncol. 2013 Oct;14(11):1112-20.