For centuries man has been trying to discover the key to reverse the effects of aging and to stay forever young. Myths have been told of a “fountain of youth” that gives immortality as long as a person bathes in it. Even the recent Disney movie Rapunzel eludes to the struggle against aging and the desire to maintain a state of permanent youth and vitality. What if I told you that scientists have recently made a major discovery that may hold the key to aging, cancer and a drastic increase in life expectancy?
Geneticist Richard Cathon and colleagues at the University of Utah have had major breakthroughs in their study of telomere's and the impact they have on aging. A telomere can be likened to a fuse on a bomb that is lit at the beginning of life and continues to burn until it reaches the bomb at the end of one's lifespan. Inside the nucleus of a cell all of our genetic material is located on double stranded molecules of DNA called chromosomes. Chromosomes are repeating patterns of four different nucleopeptides containing specific chemical codes that make each of us individually unique. Telomeres are the tips of these chromosomes that serve as a protector of the genetic material. This is similar to the plastic tip of a shoelace. As long as that tip is intact the shoelace will stay woven together. If the tip breaks off the shoe lace will fray and shred until it is no longer useable. As long as a telomere stays intact on a chromosome it can multiply and divide and accurately pass on the genetic material.
As we age our telomeres slowly begin shortening. At the beginning of one's life telomeres is around 10,000 base pairs of repeating nucleopeptides. Throughout the aging process that number will continue to drop to 5000 at the end of one's life span. A simple blood test can be done that will tell you exactly how long your telomere's, which can accurately predict the number of years an individual has left in their lives.
Many factors can prematurely shorten telomeres. A study has been done showing that stress, poor diet, lack of exercise all significantly shorten one's telomeres, which is probably why people who have significant stress, or poor health tend to be more susceptible to cardiac disease, diabetes, cancer and premature death.
The good news is, scientists have discovered an enzyme that reverses the shortening of telomeres. Telomerase is an enzyme that exists in the human body to prevent the shortening of telomeres as the cells divide. Infants, for example, have significantly higher levels of telomerase, which protects their telomeres as they are undergoing rapid growth and cell division. Cawthon and other researchers have discovered methods to replicate telomerase in the body and have seen significant age reversal in laboratory studies on mice and even on human subjects! Their research predicts that by taking supplements to boost telomerase they can increase life expectancy by at least 10-30 years!
Can you imagine a world where the life expectancy is 107 instead of today's 77 years? Can you imagine living well, feeling good, and staying active well past your 90s? The fountain of youth may be closer at hand and more attainable than we ever could have imagined!