The Science behind Disease, Aging and Telomere Length - A short summary for the layman

Recent research offers additional clues as to why some people develop age-related conditions like heart disease and cancer sooner than others.

DNA and telomeres

According to the Genetic Science Learning Center, “telomeres have been compared with the plastic tips on shoelaces because they prevent chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other. Each time a cell divides, telomeres get shorter. When they get too short, the cell no longer can divide and it becomes inactive or dies. This is why telomeres are sometimes compared with a bomb fuse.”

Dean Ornish, founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, and his colleague, Nobel prize winner, Elizabeth Blackburn, began the research on the assumption that if something can be made shorter, perhaps it can be made longer again, as well. See the story of the discovery of Telomere, telomerase and the winning of the Nobel Prize.

Heart failure, stroke, diabetes and obesity are a major public health concerns. Behavior, like an unhealthy diet, too little physical activity or smoking, can influence the risk factors, but there's more to the story. Causes for these disease are also partly genetic.


Dr Richard Cawthon

Richard Cawthon, MD, PhD, who studies the genetics of human aging at the University of Utah.

People over 60, with shorter telomeres, are three times more likely to die from heart disease and eight times more likely to die from infectious disease.


From: American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine

Video :Telomeres, Aging & Disease
By Mark Rosenberg, MD
Published on Jan 20, 2014



From: ENGAGE in Europe
The European Network for Genetic and Genomic Epidemiology