A new study has provided yet more evidence that telomeres play a fundamental role in translating risk factors into age-related diseases.
Telomeres are the material which cap the ends of the chromosomes in cells and protect them from damage. Every time a cell divides -- and as people age -- the telomeres get shorter.
The new study involved more than 1,100 British women aged between 18 and 76 years. The women filled out a questionnaire on their smoking history and provided blood samples, which were tested for concentrations of a body fat regulator called leptin and for telomere length.
As HealthDay News reports, the study found that:
...telomeres of obese women and smokers were much shorter than those of lean women and those who'd never smoked. In contrast, lean women had much longer telomeres than moderately overweight women who, in turn, had longer telomeres than obese women.The net effects:
Overall, obese women aged an additional 8.8 years -- based on telomere length -- compared to lean women, the researchers reported. A current or previous history of smoking entailed an average 4.6 year increase in aging compared to never-smokers, while those with long-term smoking habits -- a pack-a-day for 40 years -- added an additional 7.4 years of aging to their life compared to those who stayed away from cigarettes completely, the study found.For another post on research involving telomeres, see "Stress and ageing".
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