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Telomeres and Aging: Improve Your Longevity At The Cellular Level

A DNA Test Reveals Our Body's True Age

To demonstrate the effect that lifestyle has on telomeres and aging, Dr. Berger tested two young people, and the results were fascinating.

The 27-year-old woman admitted to a lifestyle of partying, drinking, and smoking. The 30-year-old man had also lived a life of drugs and alcohol and hard living, but was three years sober, eating a proper diet and working out regularly at the gym. His telomeres were in line with his age. The woman’s results were shocking: her cellular age was 38, more than 10 years her chronological age. No one knew what the results would be, Dr. Berger says. “But it was useful to really see the influence of the environment on telomere length. It validated what we’re talking about. The way to really test this would be for the woman to really clean up her act for a full year and then measure her telomeres again, and then again in another year as she continues to clean up her act.”

A test like this “can get you to understand how you’re tracking and how attention and respect for your physiology is improving your health span and thereby your lifespan,” he says. It’s not covered by insurance and costs several hundred dollars. It’s not cheap because it’s a very specialized test, Dr. Berger says. The medical evidence is there, but it has not gone mainstream enough to be along the lines of a routine cholesterol test, he says, although he believes it should be. “This is a preventative test that helps you wake up and do things to improve your health.”

The results of the two young people show you can always improve, Dr. Berger says, and while they were young, he says, it’s never too late to take control of your lifestyle, improve your health, and maybe even add a few good years to your life.

By Katherine P. Cox

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