Telomeres are sections of DNA at the end of each chromosome that serve as a cap to your genetic material. Every time a cell replicates, its telomere will become shorter. Shorter telomeres imply a shorter lifespan for a cell. Age-adjusted telomere length is the best method to date to assess biological age using structural analysis of chromosomal change in the telomere. Serial evaluation of telomere length is an indicator of how rapidly one ages relative to a normal population. Therapies directed at slowing the loss of telomere length may slow aging and age-related diseases.
Shorter telomeres have been associated with metabolic abnormalities, obesity and several degenerative diseases including cancer, dementia, and cardiovascular disease. In vitro studies have shown that telomeres are highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which will shorten telomere length and enhance cellular aging. Minimizing associated risk factors that are linked to shortened telomere activity is recommended and include:
- Reduce oxidative stress
- Correct micronutrient deficiencies, especially vitamin D
- Change sedentary lifestyle/increase physical activity
- Avoid weight gain or obesity
- Correct insulin resistance
Studies have shown that telomere length is strongly associated with Cardiovascular risk, nutritional deficiencies (particularly antioxidants) and cancer. Telomere testing may be a useful biomarker for risk assessment.