Telomere Length Linked With Mortality Risk
Telomeres are the pieces of DNA that provide protection for the ends of chromosomes. When they become too short, cells can no longer multiply. A recent study suggests that shorter telomere length may be correlated with mortality.
The study included 100,000 participants of various ethnicities and an average age of 63. The researchers did a survey to determine all of the behavioral and demographic factors of the participants.
Two years later, they took saliva samples from all of the volunteers and then linked them with health data from their medical records.
After adjusting for demographic and behavioral factors (i.e. education, smoking, alcohol consumption), the researchers found that shorter-than-average telomeres were associated with mortality and that the shortest telomeres were associated with an increased risk of death.
Telemore length was positively correlated with education and body mass index, and negatively correlated with smoking and alcohol consumption.
The study was conducted by researchers from Kaiser Permanente and the University of California. It was presented at the American Society of Human Genetics 2012 meeting on November 8, 2012.
Previous studies have suggested that there are dietary steps you can take to reduce the risk of telomere shortening. Omega-3 supplementation has been shown in more than one study to be effective. Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet.