“This is the first study to demonstrate that surgical weight loss leads to decreased aging by increasing telomere length,” said lead author John M. Morton, MD, MPH, director of bariatric surgery, Stanford University in Stanford, Calif.
Normal cells are guarded against turning malignant by telomeres. After a certain point, eroded telomeres signal cells to stop dividing. Cancer cells have chanced upon a mechanism to restore telomeres, allowing them to divide endlessly, a hallmark of cancer.
A human study published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity showed that overweight, sedentary adults who were given a daily omega-3 fat supplement realized a lengthening of their telomeres and reduced blood markers of inflammation and free-radical damage compared to subjects given placebo.
Shorter telomeres have been linked to chronic stress. A recent study by Elizabeth Hoge and her colleagues at Harvard looked to determine if specific lifestyle behaviors, such as meditation, might mitigate the effects of stress and show longer telomere lengths.