[:en]Some question whether the aging process is just our normal physiology, others look at aging as a disease that can be treated. Regardless, none of us look forward to the process itself. So, the goal of an anti-aging specialist is to help extend the period of health that we wish to enjoy for as long as possible.
Regardless of the many theories of aging, one concept stands out: Telomere Biology and its relationship to aging; this was even the subject of a Nobel Prize.
What Are Telomeres?
Telomeres are a part of your chromosomes and as DNA are simply pairs of molecules called bases that are stacked together like blocks or bricks. Each time your cells divide, your chromosomes lose a pair of bases or part of the telomere.
If left alone, ultimately the chromosome would no longer have any base pairs left to its telomere and the cell would not be able to divide and, thus, survive.
How Do Telomeres Work?
To counteract the fact that you lose base pairs with every cell division, there is an enzyme named Telomerase that helps add base pairs to the telomere. So long as the enzyme is active and keeps adding base pairs to your chromosomes, telomeres are lengthened and the body will continue to function normally.
It turns out that longer telomeres are associated with a decrease in morbidity and a lower incidence of many of the debilitating conditions we see associated with aging.
We have the ability to measure our telomere length. This helps us to understand where we stand relative to others in terms of age. For example, if you are 60 years old and your average telomere length is more like someone who is 35, that’s great. On the other hand, if you are 60 and your telomeres suggest that you are closer biologically to someone who is 80 years old, that’s not so good.
What Does This Mean For Me?
The good news is that we can modify this number by activating telomerase and lengthening your telomeres. One of the goals then of antiaging medicine is to do just that.
It is also important to understand your genetics and predisposition to various diseases. By this, it means studying your family history to see what conditions your parents or grandparents had, this may put you at risk for inheriting some of those conditions.[:]