Telomere Testing Now Available
On October 7, 2009 three American scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.
Telomeres are sections of genetic material at the end of each chromosome whose primary function is to prevent chromosomal “fraying” when a cell replicates. As cells age, its telomeres become shorter.
The new test, performed by Spectracell Laboratories in Houston, measures telomere length and compares that number with the population average for a given age. Having a telomere length longer than the population/age average is desirable.
A relatively short telomere length has a statistically significant correlation with the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are many factors which are known to negatively impact telomere length, including a diet which increases oxidative stress (refined carbohydrates, processed foods, trans fats). There are also strategies which may preserve telomere length.
On an individualized basis, Dr. Eklund will work with patients to monitor how their treatment plans affect telomere shortening.