Live Long and Prosper

September 24, 2013

By Jo Cooper

Last week the esteemed British journal The Lancet Oncology published remarkable new research showing that healthy lifestyle changes may lengthen our telomeres — i.e., may begin to reverse aging on a cellular level — the first time anything has been shown to do this.

Researchers at the Preventative Medicine Research Institute (PMRI) — Dr. Dean Ornish is founder and president — and the University of California, San Francisco authored a pilot study with men with biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer. Men in the intervention group incorporated comprehensive lifestyle changes (diet, activity, stress management, and social support), and the men in the control group were monitored only. Blood samples taken at 5 years compared relative telomere length and telomerase enzymatic activity with baseline tests, and assessed their relation to the degree of lifestyle changes. Results? The comprehensive lifestyle intervention was associated with increases in relative telomere length after 5 years of follow-up, compared with controls.

Are we all up to speed on telomeres? Telomeres are the caps on the ends of chromosomes that influence how long we live. Long, thread-like DNA molecules that carry our genes are packed into chromosomes. Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2009 for the discovery of telomerase and telomeres, collaborated on this study.

In brief — eating a healthy plant-based diet, exercising, meditating or using other stress-reduction skills, and receiving social support can lengthen your lifespan. So, let’s get to it!

On Sunday, October 6, 2013, Dr. Ornish will be offering a public talk, “The Power of Lifestyle Changes & Love”