Telomere Attrition Hallmark of Aging 2

May 19, 2024

Telomere Attrition, Hallmark of Aging 2

Do you know what a telomere is? Yes, it's the cap or end of the chromosome that doesn't code for any protein. The enzyme that duplicates DNA has to have a fixed number of base pairs inside the protein to do its work of copying the DNA. When it gets to the end of the chromosome, it has those base pairs inside it but unable to be reached. Those final base pairs get lopped off. The chromosome is a tiny bit shorter. That is a rate-limiting step on how many times that cell can duplicate.

This isn't the same phenomenon as "genomic instability", Hallmark #1 because of the action and function of an enzyme called telomerase. It can lengthen the telomere and there is research in mice and humans on how to do just that. In some cancers, the activity of telomerase actually helps lengthen lifespan and kill off the cancer faster. That makes telomere lengthening and shortening a separate phenomenon. The inexorable march of that shortening explains the observed phenomenon called the Hayflick Limit that predicts how many times our chromosomes can duplicate, and therefore how long we can live.

Yes, you can lengthen your telomeres. There is a 6-protein complex called shelterin that makes the repetitive sequence of base pairs TTAGGG. That sequence is what is repeated in telomeres. When there are enough of those sequences, shelterin can attach and in just the right circumstances, stimulate telomerase to make longer telomeres.

One clinical example is a study in thejournal Lancet on 25 men with prostate cancer compared to 25 controls. The prostate cancer group was put on a plant-based diet, nudged into more exercise, provided with extra social support, and given stress management exercises. In just three months, their telomeres were longer compared to the controls whose telomeres had lengthened.

The NHANES study, the largest, ongoing study of adults in America reviewed every 10 years with comprehensive dietary analysis, shows that for every 10 grams of extra fiber per 1000 calories, your telomeres will be 83 base pairs longer. That translates into 4-5 years extra lifespan.

We can now quantify telomere length in the research lab. There are also companies that will measure your telomere length for a fee. Just type in Telomere measuring and you will find a raft of companies providing the service. Consider pledging to yourself extra exercise and more fiber and see how you do. Add some meditation and stress management to the mix and you will replicate some of the process that has been done in research labs elsewhere.

www.What will Work for me? I measured my biological age last year and did a test on myself. I reduced my biological age by some 9 years by taking Tartary Buckwheat and metformin. This is something that is within your reach to do too. It's a fascinating rabbit hole to go down and I'm mesmerized by the concept. One more time, exploring the Hallmarks of Aging reinforces the lifestyle methods you can follow that can be measured and documented with tests that are now coming online. Those tests aren't to be found at your regular family doctor who is examining you for the presence of disease. If you have to get a tattoo this week, consider making it TTAGGG, just to remind you to have the salad instead of the pizza.

References: Cell , Cell Metabolism, Nature Review, Nutrients, Wikipedia, Lancet

Pop Quiz

1. What is a telomere?                            Answer: Aw, come on. That's a softball. It's the "Nonsense DNA" on the end of your chromosomes that gets shortened with each duplication of your chromosomes.

2. Is there a name for the result of all that shortening?                           Answer: Yes, the Hayflick Limit.

3. Can I lengthen my telomeres?                      Answer: Yes.

4. Name one strategy you can add to your lifestyle that will help you lengthen your telomeres.              Answer: Exercise, fiber, stress management, plant-based diet, social support.

5. Can I escape the Grim Reaper doing all those things?                  Answer: Well, maybe 5 years extra. Adding plasmalogen supplementation may add more.