TeloYears: 2016 Telomere Science Year in Review

It’s that time of the year when we look back over the past 12 months and make New Year’s resolutions about self- improvement and healthy living. A review of noteworthy scientific studies published in 2016 finds the role of TELOMERES, the dynamic, protective caps at the ends our DNA strands that tend to shorten and fray with age, at the top of the list.

To those who are deciding whether to measure their own telomere length as a worthwhile way to help set a baseline for improving their lifestyle in the New Year, TeloYears offers the following round-up of the latest clinical studies published by highly renowned and trusted organizations who already know that it is. These publications from credible institutions not only add to the scientific basis for measuring telomere length, but also provide interesting evidence on the interplay between telomere length and one’s genetics, lifestyle, environment, stress and wellness.

  1. US Department of Veterans Affairs: “Hostility and telomere shortening among U.S. military veterans: Results from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study.” Psychoneuroendocrinology (2016). Data from 468 U.S. military veterans who participated in the study showed that hostility, particularly difficulties controlling anger, is associated with telomere shortening.
  2. Harvard University, National Cancer Institute: “Coffee Consumption Is Positively Associated with Longer Leukocyte Telomere Length in the Nurses’ Health Study.” The Journal of Nutrition (2016). Coffee is an important source of antioxidants, and consumption of this beverage is associated with many health benefits and a lower mortality risk. Among 4,780 female nurses, higher total coffee consumption (more than 2 cups per day) was significantly associated with longer telomeres (p = 0.02).
  3. University of California, San Francisco: “Change in Leukocyte Telomere Length Predicts Mortality in Patients with Stable Coronary Heart Disease from the Heart and Soul Study.” PLOSone (2016). Mortality occurred in 39% (79/203) of patients who experienced telomere shortening, 22% (45/203) of patients whose telomere length was maintained, and 12% (25/202) of patients who experienced telomere lengthening (p<0.001). In patients with coronary heart disease, an increase in leukocyte telomere length over 5 years is associated with decreased mortality. Total study subjects = 1,024.
  4. Emory University et al: “Telomere Shortening, Regenerative Capacity, and Cardiovascular Outcomes.” Circulation Research (2016). Short Leukocyte Telomere Length (LTL) and low Bone Marrow-derived Circulating Progenitor Cells (CD34+ PC) predicted adverse cardiovascular outcomes (death, myocardial infarction, coronary revascularization or cerebrovascular events) independently of each other. Patients who had both short LTL (<Q1) and low CD34+ cell count (<Q1) had the greatest risk of adverse outcomes (HR=3.5, 95% CI, 1.7-7.1). Total study subjects = 566.
  5. University of Paris, FR et al: “Telomere Shortening in Middle-Aged Men with Sleep- disordered Breathing.” Annals of the American Thoracic Society (2016) 161. The mean telomere length ratio was 0.70 ± 0.37 in the participants without sleep apnea, compared with 0.61 ± 0.22 and 0.53 ± 0.16 in those with mild to moderate and severe sleep apnea, respectively (P = 0.01). Intermittent hypoxemia due to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a major contributor to telomere shortening in middle-aged men. Oxidative stress may explain this finding. Total study subjects = 161
  6.  University of Arizona and Vanderbilt University: “Dimensions of religious involvement and leukocyte telomere length.” Social Science & Medicine (2016). Study used cross- sectional data from a large probability sample of 1252 black and white adults, aged 22 to 69 in Tennessee. Religiosity (religious attendance, prayer frequency, and religious identity) was positively associated with leukocyte telomere length.

Some of America’s most trusted institutions already know that telomere length is a worthwhile metric. It is a recognized biomarker of aging well. But if you don’t measure it, you can’t control it. TeloYears exists to bring powerful and personalized self-knowledge that can serve as inspiration for lifestyle improvement and the motivation to make a positive change.
Douglas Harrington, MD


Douglas Harrington, MD
Medical & Laboratory Director
Telomere Diagnostics.

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