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Study Finds Lifestyle Changes Slow Cell Aging

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, September 17, 2008 11:59 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Telomerase, Telomeres, Lifestyle Changes, Exercise, Aging, Living Well, Prostate Cancer


IMAGE SOURCE: iStockPhoto / diet concept / author: Zocha_K

A new study published in the journal Lancet Oncology suggests significant lifestyle changes including a healthier diet and more exercise can help to improve levels of an enzyme that controls cell aging, according to researchers.

The enzyme telomerase works by repairing and extending telomeres, which are DNA-protein complexes that directly affect how rapidly, cells age.

The shortening of telomeres is evolving as a marker of premature death and disease risk in many types of cancers including colorectal cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer.

The study, by Dr. Dean Ornish, a professor of medicine at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and researchers of the University of California, asked 30 men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer to make major lifestyle changes for a period of three months.

The lifestyle changes included adhering to a diet rich in whole foods, fruits and vegetables and soy products. They participated in moderate aerobic exercise such as walking for 30 minutes a day and an hour of stress management methods such as meditation. They also supplemented their diet with vitamins and fish oil.

Telomerase levels in the men were measured at the start of the study and followed up at three months. At the end of three months researchers found telomerase levels increased by 29 percent and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels had decreased.

As researchers expected, the men lost weight, lowered their blood pressure and experienced other health improvements as well.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study of its kind to show that extensive lifestyle changes – or any intervention – are linked with an increase in cellular telomerase activity levels,” wrote study authors.

“The ramifications of this study are not limited only to men with prostate cancer. Extensive lifestyle changes may allow for improvements in telomerase activity that may be useful to the general population,” Ornish said. #

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