May 24, 2011
Dear Future Centenarian,
That's the question that made the news last week, instead of the question "How can you extend your active lifespan?"
The airwaves in Europe, the U.S., and likely around the world were abuzz with the dramatic announcement coming out of Spain about "The New Test That Tells You How Long You'll Live!" That new test, of course, is the measure of telomere lengths, not so new, actually. But the announcement described the real breakthrough that Dr. Maria Blasco's lab and new telomere measurement company, Life Length, SL, in Spain, has made to measure the shortest telomeres, which is really the critical measure, as opposed to the more commonly measured average telomere length.
Telomeres are the protective tips of your chromosomes that shorten each time your cells divide. Some researchers believe many diseases can be avoided, and healthy lifespans can be extended by lengthening the shortest telomeres, thus "resetting the aging clock."
As I scanned the many TV and press reports, some were quite positive and optimistic about the news. Others frankly missed the mark, essentially giving the [untrue] message: "Why should I have my telomeres measured, since there's nothing I can do to affect or improve my telomere length anyway? My (telomere) fate and lifespan are sealed."
If you've read the new book, The Immortality Edge, you know there are in fact many proven actions that can not only slow down the rate of telomere shortening (thus slowing down your aging process), but also to re-lengthen telomeres (with the goal of actual age reversal.)
The media focused on scare tactics like "Do you really want to know when you will die?" and "Why bother knowing? After all, you were BORN with telomeres of a certain length, and there's nothing you can do…"
You get the picture.
Much of the dialogue and "controversy" in some circles in the field of telomeres revolves around the question: "OK, if short telomeres are "bad", will it really help me if I can lengthen my telomeres?"
There is a wealth of data from many of the leading telomere biologists supporting a "yes" answer to that question. But the other vitally important point that is missed with this question, and for which I know of no controversy among the experts. It's that: there are many ways, and absolute benefit, to slowing the rate of telomere shortening and telomere loss–essentially slowing down your rate of aging–through the targeted actions detailed in the book. These include: exercise; multiple stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, even deep breathing; nutrition and targeted nutritional supplementation.
As Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn has stated, "Correct telomere maintenance is critical." And as you know, many of those news reports last week were indeed wrong: there are ways to maintain, even increase, your telomere length. And you are out there doing it! Right?
For information on emerging telomere maintenance and lengthening compounds, go to: http://www.maxlife.org/telomeres/.
To your good health, with longer telomeres!