Telomere Length Predicts Cancer Risk

One of the growing areas of recent research has been focused on telomeres, the “end caps” of chromosomes. Generally, as people age telomere length decreases, and it is believed that their shortening contributes to aging and various diseases. At the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research this spring, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute reported that their “cohort study demonstrates that longer telomere length is associated with signifıcantly increased risk of total and major cancers in a general population.” The relationship between telomere length and cancer is complex, so it is too early to draw direct relationships between the two, but it does off some clues as to where scientists should be looking.

It is also worth noting that that this shortening is not just something we are doomed to live with. Research has shown that some polyphenol antioxidants can protect DNA, including telomeres. In a preliminary clinical study, conducted by Shaklee Corporation, participants who took a polyphenol supplement called Vivix “had a 40% lower rate of telomere shortening across the adult age range compared to a healthy control group.”

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