How Long Are Your Telomeres, and Does That Mean Anything?

I’m sure that you’ve heard people talking about Telomeres……or maybe you’re already a total Telomere expert already? Good for you, because I don’t know a whole lot about them myself. Luckily, it seems that Mark Sisson, and  Dr. Ron Rosedal

e have teemed up to educated the Primal masses about Telomeres.

How Long Are Your Telomeres, and Does That Mean Anything?

Dr. Rosedale wrote a guest post that is featured on Mark’s Daily Apple called “The Tall Tail of Telomeres“. Here are a few excerpts from the article:


Human chromosomes (grey) capped by telomeres (white). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

“For years now, it’s been said that telomeres – the tips of your chromosomes – are the

key to cancer and aging. The shorter they are, the worse off you are – so the story goes. But what do we really know about them? Can the length of your telomeres help predict how long you’ll live? Could telomere research unlock a modern fountain of youth? Could humans one day live to be hundreds of years old?”

“In 1961 Leonard Hayflick discovered that cells in a petri dish could only divide a limited number of times before cell division would cease permanently. This famously became known as the “Hayflick limit”. 10 years later Olovnikov, a Russian researcher, linked the tails of chromosomes to this cell division arrest. It was found that the enzymes that duplicate the DNA of chromosomes cannot continue this duplication all the way to the ends of linear chromosomes. If cells were to divide without telomeres, with each cell division they would lose a chunk of critical and functional DNA. The telomeres act as sacrificial lambs for DNA duplication. They are repeating nucleotide segments (TTAGGG) of relatively meaningless segments of chromosomes such that the loss of a small chunk of these when cells divide is genetically harmless… up to a point. If a cell divides too much, and its telomeres become too short, at best it can no longer divide. Worse, genetic harm befalls that cell. A process is initiated within the cell causing it to self-destruct (called apoptosis). Later, it was found that a natural enzyme that some cells manufacture called telomerase is capable of lengthening telomeres and potentially immortalizing that cell. The finding that telomeres shorten with increasing age has led to the theory that telomeres are at least a biomarker of aging, if not at least partially causative of the damage associated with aging (called senescence).”

“A treatment such as lengthening telomeres might well improve some, and possibly many, symptoms of aging and even the average or median lifespan, while leaving maximum lifespan unchanged…or perhaps even shortening it. It would not and should not then be considered an “anti-aging” treatment though possibly a good therapeutic modality”

“Many so-called experts on health and longevity talk a lot about increasing telomere length as proof of efficacy of some sort of diet or other health modality. Let’s look at that statement. What do they mean by increasing their telomeres? They have about 15 trillion cells. Did they increase the telomere length of all chromosomes in all cells? Were they all measured? Was a representative sample measured? Is telomere length even indicative of health, or aging? Is it even a biomarker of aging, and if so, is that relevant?”

I hate to butt-in here, but I know of one pretty infamous Paleo guru who is known for asking people how long their telomeres are, when his therapy strategies are questioned. ;-)

“Is it even good to increase telomere length? Maybe not. 90% of cancer cells do it. The fact that telomeres shorten may actually allow us to live longer, as it may reduce the risk of cancer. The good news is that the telomeres in almost all the cells other than WBCs and stem cells do not increase, for if they did, dying of cancer would be all but certain.”

Ok, so I’m sure that I’m probably approaching the limit of how much I can legally and ethically copy and paste from Mark’s blog, so I’m going to stop there. Please head on over to Mark’s Daily Apple and read the rest of the article.

Honestly, I think that people should spend less time trying to circumvent nature, and more time eating fresh, whole, real foods according to the Paleo Template…..and the rest will sort itself out!

Don’t chow on fake food!!


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Barry Cripps is a Paleo-based, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, who operates out of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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