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How long are your telomeres?

 

Telomeres are segments of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes. They protect the genetic data contained in DNA and act as a buffer during cell replication. Telomeres become shortened over time as a cell divides and replicates. They can be prematurely shortened due to oxidation, inflammation, and stress. These conditions reduce the protective effect of telomeres, damage DNA, and contribute to early cell death. Telomeres may be the key to the root cause and prevention of age-related conditions such as cancer.

Knowing more about the status of telomere length may encourage people with prematurely shortened telomeres to seriously consider making lifestyle changes that can positively impact their health. Adopting healthy or avoiding unhealthy lifestyle choices can contribute to telomere length in healthy cells and possibly contribute to longevity. A plant-based diet, moderate exercise, and stress reduction (yoga plus a weekly support group) were all shown to lengthen telomeres as much as 10% in a study performed at University of California San Francisco in 2013.

A test to check the length of your telomeres is now commercially available. We can perform it with a simple blood draw in the office, but you should be mentally prepared. Remember, the test isn't meant to frighten you by telling you how long you will live. It is meant to empower you to make healthy choices and live your best life.


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