If you look in your closet, you probably have a tattered pair of shoes with frayed laces. And if you’re like me, you wear the shoes until one day you pull one of the frayed ends too far, making it nearly impossible to push the end of the lace thru the tiny hole again. This spells the end for that particular shoelace. And it all started when the little plastic tip on the end of the shoelace wore off, allowing the shoelace to become frayed.
So what do shoelaces and telomeres have to do with one another? Well, our genes are located on twisted, double-stranded molecules of DNA called chromosomes. And at the ends of the chromosomes are stretches of DNA called telomeres. The telomeres protect the genetic code and allow the cells to divide, while also preventing the chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to one anther. So, surprisingly, telomeres function similarly to the little plastic tips at the end of your shoelaces. Maybe it’s a little bit of a stretch, but hopefully, you get the metaphor.
Unfortunately, each time a cell divides the telomeres get shorter. Without telomeres, cell division would cause the main part of the chromosome containing the genes essential to human life to become shorter. When the telomeres become too short, the cell can no longer divide and ultimately dies. The process is associated with aging, cancer, etc., and ultimately death.
However, our body produces an enzyme called telomerase that actually increases the size of our telomeres. The telomerase is effective in young cells, but as cells continually divide, there is not enough telomerase to go around and the telomeres become shorter and shorter. So, scientists have begun to study telomeres and telomerase and have seen a correlation between aging and the length of an organisms telomeres.
Geneticist Richard Cawthon and his colleagues at the University of Utah have found shorter telomeres are associated with shorter lives. They found people over 60 with shorter telomeres were 3x more likely to die from heart disease and 8x more likely to die from infectious disease. Cawthon’s study found that when humans are divided into two groups, those with long telomeres and those with short telomeres, those with longer telomeres live five years longer than those with short telomeres.
But, unfortunately, the length of telomeres and its direct correlation to aging is not that simple because scientists have found, for example, that mice have longer telomeres than humans but humans significantly outlive mice. So, there are likely other factors at work in the aging process as well, including oxidative stress and glycation.
Much work still needs to be done to understand the role telomeres play in aging. Some companies have started developing products designed to support telomeres, such as Product B from Isagenix. For now, it would seem your best bet to live longer would be to research ways to combat oxidative stress (i.e. antioxidants) and glycation (i.e. proper diet), as well as monitor the effect new telomere supporting products have on aging. This may take time, but hopefully, advancements continue to prolong the time we all have.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Isagenix products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The weight-loss testimonials presented apply only to the individuals depicted, cannot be guaranteed, and should not be considered typical. An unpublished 2008 university study showed a statistically significant weight loss of seven pounds during the first nine days of the Cleansing and Fat Burning System. This website is operated by an independent Isagenix distributor.