Stress shortens your telomeres…but why does that matter?
A telomere is a region of repetitive nucleotides consisting of DNA and RNA at the end of a chromosome that protects the chromosome from deterioration.
Shorter telomeres are known to determine cell longevity and shorter telomeres lead to a shorter lifespan. Telomeres can therefore give us information on how fast we age.
Several factors can affect the length of the telomeres. We will look at one of these factors here.
Psychological stress, both perceived stress and chronicity of stress. is significantly associated with higher oxidative stress, lower telomerase activity, and shorter telomere length (Epel ES, et.al., 2004).
In a study which included 2911 men and women aged 30-64, a significant association was found between work exhaustion and telomere length related to the acceleration of the rate of biological aging (Ahola K, et.al., 2012).
In this study the researchers examined relative telomere length in a group of individuals experienced in Loving-Kindness Meditation, a practice derived from the Buddhist tradition (Hoge EA, et.al., 2013).
The meditation practitioners had longer telomeres than the group not practicing meditation indicating an effect on longevity.
When family dementia caregivers were practicing Kirtan Kriya meditation or listening to relaxation music for 12 min per day for 8 weeks, this was the results.
The meditation group showed 43% improvement in telomerase activity compared with 3.7% in the relaxation group (Lavretsky H, et. al., 2013).
The meditation group also improved mental and cognitive functioning and had lower levels of depressive symptoms.
This is one of the things you can do to keep your telomeres longer and counteract stress. Starting to meditate regularly is well worth the time you spend on the meditating,
Ahola K, Sirén I, Kivimäki M, Ripatti S, Aromaa A, Lönnqvist J, Hovatta I.Work-related exhaustion and telomere length: a population-based study. PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40186.
Epel ES, Blackburn EH, Lin J, Dhabhar FS, Adler NE, Morrow JD, Cawthon RM, Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2004 Dec 7;101(49):17312-5.
Hoge EA, Chen MM, Orr E, Metcalf CA, Fischer LE, Pollack MH, De Vivo I, Simon NM. Loving-Kindness Meditation practice associated with longer telomeres in women. Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Aug;32:159-63.
Lavretsky H, Epel ES, Siddarth P, Nazarian N, Cyr NS, Khalsa DS, Lin J, Blackburn E, Irwin MR. A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms: effects on mental health, cognition, and telomerase activity. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2013 Jan;28(1):57-65.
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