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Aging Process and Disease Reversed With Positive Lifestyle Changes According to Recent UCSF Study [VIDEO]

Sep 17, 2013 11:56 AM EDT

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A study from UC San Francisco reveals that changes in diet, exercise, social support and stress management can actually decrease the process of aging by producing longer telomeres, the parts of chromosomes that affect aging.

The UCSF report states that this is the first controlled trial that shows a possibility of longer telomeres over time from intervention. The Preventive Medicine Research Institute conducted the study, where they investigated the effect of lifestyle choices on a person's health and disease.

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"Our genes, and our telomeres, are not necessarily our fate," said lead author Dean Ornish, MD, UCSF clinical professor of medicine, and founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute.

"So often people think 'Oh, I have bad genes, there's nothing I can do about it,'" he adds. "But these findings indicate that telomeres may lengthen to the degree that people change how they live. Research indicates that longer telomeres are associated with fewer illnesses and longer life."

According to Medical News Today, "Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes found at the end of chromosomes that control the aging process. They protect the end of the chromosomes from becoming damaged."

The study followed 35 men with localized early-state prostate cancer, exploring the relationship between comprehensive lifestyle changes, telomere length, and telomerase activity, according to a report in Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. Ten of the patients went through lifestyle changes to improve their lifestyles all around, and were compared to the 25 others who did not partake in any changes. All of the men were closely monitored and evaluated by screenings and biopsies.

The group of men that changed their lifestyles also changed their telomere length by around 10%. In fact, the more people followed the recommended lifestyle program, the more dramatic improvements appeared in telomere length. The men in the control group had telomere length nearly 3% shorter, in contrast, when the five-year study ended. These effects were also adjusted accounting for age and length of the follow-up.

The research suggests that this isn't only the case of men with prostate cancer, where it can apply to anyone.

Peter R. Carroll, M.D., professor and chair of the UCSF department of urology stated, "Telomere shortening increases the risk of a wide variety of chronic diseases. We believe that increases in telomere length may help to prevent these conditions and perhaps even lengthen lifespan."

The study is published online on Sept. 16 in The Lancet Oncology.


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