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Harvard scientists reverse the ageing process in mice

Laboratory mouse in a scientist's hand… The Harvard group focused on a process called telomere shortening. Most cells in the body contain 23 pairs of chromosomes, which carry our DNA. At the ends of each chromosome is a protective cap called a telomere. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres are snipped shorter, until eventually they stop working and the cell dies or goes into a suspended state called “senescence”. The process is behind much of the wear and tear associated with ageing. …

At Harvard, they bred genetically manipulated mice that lacked an enzyme called telomerase that stops telomeres getting shorter. Without the enzyme, the mice aged prematurely and suffered ailments, including a poor sense of smell, smaller brain size, infertility and damaged intestines and spleens. But when DePinho gave the mice injections to reactivate the enzyme, it repaired the damaged tissues and reversed the signs of ageing.

“These were severely aged animals, but after a month of treatment they showed a substantial restoration, including the growth of new neurons in their brains,” said DePinho.

Repeating the trick in humans will be more difficult. Mice make telomerase throughout their lives, but the enzyme is switched off in adult humans, an evolutionary compromise that stops cells growing out of control and turning into cancer. Raising levels of telomerase in people might slow the ageing process, but it makes the risk of cancer soar. …

DePinho said none of Harvard’s mice developed cancer after the treatment. The team is now investigating whether it extends the lifespan of mice or enables them to live healthier lives into old age. …

via Harvard scientists reverse the ageing process in mice — now for humans | Science | The Guardian.

… when the telomerase enzyme was switched back on, the mice became younger. Researchers saw a dramatic reversal in the signs and symptoms of aging with telomerase activation. Benefits included:

  • Increased brain size
  • Improved cognition
  • Restoration of hair to a healthy sheen
  • Restored fertility
  • Recuperation of organs (spleen, liver, intestines)

The most important lesson learned from this study is that aged tissues, even ones in an advanced state of degeneration, retain a remarkable capacity to renew themselves and telomerase, when activated, can reverse certain aspects associated with aging.

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“The Mediterranean diet helps protect your telomeres, according to a Harvard study. Telomeres sit at the ends of your chromosomes and help protect the ends from fraying. Harvard researchers concluded that a greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with longer telomeres. The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish”  Harvard Medical School

“Sierra Sciences mission is to develop a drug that will induce the production of telomerase to lengthen humans telomeres and therefore reverse our aging process, as well as cure diseases linked to aging. Ninety percent of everyone I talk to has never heard of a telomere and I think telomeres are the most significant discovery in medical research, ever!”   Bill Anderson, Ph.D. –

“Meditation alters cancer survivors’ cells. A Canadian research team found that the telomeres, the protein caps at the end of our chromosomes that determine how quickly a cell ages, stayed the same length in cancer survivors who meditated. The telomeres of cancer survivors, who didn’t participate, shortened during the three-month study.”  University of Calgary  Science Alert

Read more:

How to Regrow Telomeres Naturally


One study found that marathon runners and triathletes in their fifties had the chromosomes and telomeres of twenty-year-olds. (3) These athletes ran about 50 miles a week for about 35 years.

If having longer telomeres can keep you from aging, then exercise is an effective anti-aging tool available to almost everyone …

Plant-based diets are deficient in saturated fat which is associated with shorter telomeres. For example, replacing just one percent of your calories from saturated fat with anything else can add a whole year’s worth of aging to the length of your telomeres. Why is saturated fat so harmful?

Palmitic acid, the main saturated fat found in meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, can be toxic to human cells. But Is saturated fat the only way that consuming animal products can shorten telomeres? …

Processed meat and fish are possibly the worst foods for telomeres and speeding up the aging process. Eating fish has shown to age a person’s DNA 6 years and processed meat ages you 14 years (5).


The above site is not correct, it implicates fish and provides a link but the link only implicates processed meats as shortending telomeres.

Dietary patterns, food groups, and telomere length in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).

With data from 840 white, black, and Hispanic adults from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, we studied cross-sectional associations between telomere length and dietary patterns and foods and beverages that were associated with markers of inflammation.

… Intake of whole grains, fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy, nuts or seeds, nonfried fish, coffee, refined grains, fried foods, red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened soda were computed with responses to a 120-item food-frequency questionnaire completed at baseline. Scores on 2 previously defined empirical dietary patterns were also computed for each participant.

CONCLUSIONS: Processed meat intake showed an expected inverse association with telomere length, but other diet features did not show their expected associations.

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In other words, diet didn’t influence telomere length in this study, other than processed meats having a negative impact.

There is still much to learn, but by looking at a lot of rumors, I do think that a good diet (whatever that ends up meaning exactly) and exercise plus meditation and relaxation and avoiding things that cause inflammation are a key to long telomeres and a long healthy life, as long as you avoid accidents, and so on.


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