Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lifestyle improvements enhance telomerase activity

An article appearing online on September 16, 2008 in The Lancet Oncology reports a pilot study conducted by Dean Ornish, MD and colleagues which found that adopting positive lifestyle changes increases the activity of telomerase, the enzyme responsible for maintaining telomeres. Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes that cap the ends of chromosomes, aiding in their stabilization.

Telomere length is associated with cellular age, and adequate telomere length is vital to maintaining cells, including immune system cells which protect the body against a number of diseases, such as cancer. Longer telomere length has been associated with increased resistance to disease and premature death in prostate, breast, lung and colorectal cancer.

The current study involved 24 patients with low-risk prostate cancer. Dr Ornish, of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, and his associates at the University of California, San Francisco, conducted a three day intensive residential retreat followed by a three month comprehensive lifestyle modification program.

Participants were asked to adopt diets that limited fat to 10 percent of their calorie intake, and which contained a low amount of refined carbohydrates, abundant amounts of whole grains, fruit and vegetables, and supplemental soy protein powder, fish oil, vitamin E, selenium, and vitamin C. The subjects were also asked to engage in moderate aerobic exercise for one half hour per day and one hour stress management periods for six days per week, in addition to a one hour weekly group support session. Blood samples were analyzed for telomerase activity and other factors, and psychological distress was evaluated at the beginning of the study and at the end of the three month treatment period. Continue Reading

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