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Deterioration of DNA Could Lead To A Heart Attack

In a large scale Danish study that included 20,000 participants, researchers have found that the shortening of telomeres - the tiny caps on the end of DNA strands—can increase your risk of having a heart attack and dying prematurely.

The study was published in the March, 2012 edition of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. It was conducted by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, who measured telomere lengths using participants DNA samples. They tracked changes in telomere length over time, sometimes for as long as 19 years.

They found that participants with shortened telomeres had a 50% increase in the risk of a heart attack and a 25% increase in the risk of dying prematurely.

The researchers noted that shortened telomeres are not just a result of old age; they can also result from lifestyle factors. Their study showed that smoking and obesity lead to shortened telomeres.

Previous studies have shown that there may be ways to slow the shortening of telomeres. One such study, conducted by researchers at Stanford University and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that individuals with heart disease and a high intake level of marine omega-3 essential fatty-acids had a slower rate of telomere shortening.

A study published in 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that consuming vitamins C, E and D are all associated with longer telomeres. Additionally, a study from the Washington School of Medicine suggests that resveratrol repairs DNA damage. Resveratrol is the nutrient found in red wine, grapes, grape seed extracts, and peanuts.

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