Telomeres are protective caps that cover the tips of the body’s chromosomes, similar to the plastic tips that are at the end of a shoelace. The telomeres tend to become shorter as people age, so testing the telomeres is a way to look at cellular aging. The shortness of the telomeres points to the patient’s biological age and is actually measured using the patient’s white blood cells taken with a blood sample for this specially designed test. After many cell divisions in a person’s life, once the telomeres shorten to a critical point the cell is no longer able to divide and thusly, dies.
The telomeres were discovered in 2009 and led to a Nobel prize for a few doctors. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009 was awarded jointly to Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak "for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase."
Lifestyle changes such as exercise, getting enough sleep, and a certain amount of fasting can slow down the shortening of the telomeres and can even reverse the damage. We have begun doing the testing with a specialty lab. The idea is useful and can lead to a determination of whatever vitamins and nutrients are deficient such as vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E, as well as many others. Replacing specific deficient nutrients can improve cellular health.
I’m sure that more analysis will be done on the significance of shortening of the telomeres. There can be different ways to analyze the data – looking at average telomere length or looking at the actual number of the short telomeres. All in all, it is a great advance and another bio marker which shows the need to improve antioxidant function, nutritional status, and bio-identical hormone status -- as all of these have been linked to telomere shortening.
Please contact our office for more information about preventive and proactive testing and treatment modalities for truly feeling well and living a full life.