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Find out which superfoods can help reduce your risk of developing cancer.

Can Telomeres Be the Key to Aging and Cancer?

Telomeres have been shown to have a great influence on our health. Research suggests there are certain attributes of telomeres which show the link between telomeres and aging. Not surprisingly, being part of our genetics, telomeres could also have a great deal to help us understand in the slowing of aging and the battle against cancer. There is research showing how telomeres can possibly help us to detect cancer cells, giving scientists a viable road to targeting specific cells.


Telomeres can be thought as aglets; the plastic tips on shoelaces which protect the shoelace from fraying. But in this case, the telomeres act as protectors on chromosomes, preventing them from unraveling and sticking together, ultimately keeping cells safeguarded and healthy for maximum longevity. However, multiple factors can harm their survival and effectiveness which can cause them to shorten, with evolving research linking telomere shortening to accelerated aging and various disease states. But if we can protect against harm, and control the rate of shortening, can telomeres be the key to aging and cancer?

Telomeres and Aging

One of the most gratifying benefits of telomere's exploration is its link to aging. Aging is an inevitable part of life, though its progression can be effected in a slow or quick manner depending on a multitude of factors, telomere health being one of them. In fact, data suggests shorter telomeres are associated to shorter lives. However, it is important to remember this correlation is not indicative of causation, which ultimately leaves researchers wondering whether or not shortened telomeres are a sign of aging, or if shortened telomeres shave off years of life. But geneticists and other healthcare professionals still work adamantly to reveal more robust mechanisms of the notorious chromosome-protectors. Researchers are also trying to unveil telomerase, the enzyme imperative for the telomeres' fate, and if they can extend telomere length with its increased presence. They speculate that if telomerase could control the division of human cells, they may have the knowledge to mass produce cells for transplantation, cure diabetes, and disrupt cancer progression, amongst numerous other potential benefits to pioneer.

Telomeres, Telomerase, and Cancer

First off, cell division is a normal part of physiology and required to produce new skin cells, red blood cells, and many other vital processes. But in the case of cancer, cell division becomes more rapid and telomeres start to become short quickly. Interestingly, too, researchers imply individuals with shorter telomeres appear to have a greater risk for development of lung, bladder, renal cell, gastrointestinal, and head and neck cancers.

Researchers speculate measuring telomerase may hold the key in the fight against cancer. As mentioned above, telomerase is the enzyme that attaches new strands of DNA to the ends of telomeres on chromosomes. Valid theories suggest revealing the presence of telomerase may not only detect cancer, but have the capability to fight against it. However, at this point in time, much is still left to be known and combatting cancer risk and extinction requires singling out, targeting, and extinguishing cancer cells. Researchers are in a position to continue growing such knowledge and producing techniques to solely target cancer cells, rather than block telomerase altogether, which may impair fertility, wound healing, and the production of blood and immune cells.

Turning the Key

Although more is still to be known regarding telomeres and their benefits to health, the evidence linking them to aging and cancer, is nonetheless compelling. But to obtain and accelerate such health benefits, one must personally turn the key and implement healthy lifestyle choices. Diet plays a large impact on telomere health, with the promotion of plant-based foods complimented with healthy fat sources, lean proteins, and dairy products being of benefit. Limiting processed foods and embracing plant-based diets has been shown to combat the risk of various cancers. Regular exercise, stress management, and smoke cessation are also shown to impact telomere health. bistroMD can help you turn the key by supplying well-balanced meals straight to your doorstep. For more information at bistroMD, visit the official webpage here.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on October 05, 2017. Updated on October 05, 2017.


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