The Wear and Tear of Chromosomal Guardians – Part 2

Written by Anil Bajnath, MD
Posted March 4, 2021

Dear Longevity Insider,

Nothing lasts forever.

In my book, The Longevity Equation, I point out that, “Our natural DNA replication mechanisms do not duplicate all of the telomeres when each cell divides, so each chromosome has fewer telomeres. Once the telomeres run out, you hit what’s called a cell growth arrest. This means you are limited to how much new tissue you can regenerate as you age.” Some say that telomeres are the molecular clock that stops cell division.

Each time a cell divides, 25-200 bases are lost from the ends of the telomeres on each chromosome. As telomeres start to fray and become shorter, they start to resemble broken DNA and become more likely to be targeted by a process called DNA damage response (DDR), which ultimately leads to cell death. Shorter telomeres are associated with most diseases of aging in humans.

Maintenance requirements

Telomerase is an enzyme that adds DNA to the ends of chromosomes, which helps maintain chromosomal length. However, it is only found in low concentrations in somatic cells (any cells other than the reproductive cells) but in high concentrations of stem cells and germ cells (egg and sperm). For this reason, as we age, our telomeres reduce in normal function. Unfortunately, telomerase is also found in high levels in cancer cells, which enables these cells to divide indefinitely.

What all of this means is that we need to have enough telomerase activity to keep our cells healthy and prevent them from degrading prematurely, but not so much that it contributes to the growth of cancer cells. So in a word: moderation.

If our cells are exposed to stress or injury – such as hormonal stress, inflammatory stress, and oxidative stress – they will be forced to divide more frequently, and consequently, our telomeres will shorten more quickly. The end result: accelerated aging.

Some easy ways we can maintain our telomere length, and possibly extend them:

  • Regular, moderate exercise
  • Stress reduction
  • Healthy diet
  • Weight loss
  • Smoking cessation

Let us provide you with guidance

Since telomeres are essential in cellular functioning, they continue to be actively researched as a therapeutic intervention in nearly every known disease state. They are considered a biomarker of aging, and thus we have the ability to test and measure telomeres directly. However, because of their direct and significant role in genomic instability, we suggest another way of looking at the current state of your DNA.

My best-selling book, The Longevity Equation, provides a step-by-step blueprint to hack your genes, optimize your health and master the art of existence. In my book, I take an in-depth look at aging, explore what it means to extend your healthspan, and outline the pathways and factors that lead to a lifelong solution to the burdens of aging.

And of all my research, here is what I'm post proud of.

To your longevity,

Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ