Worried about my telemers

I had never heard about telemers until I watched “Stress: Portrait of a killer” on DVD.

Sure, I knew before that stress is not good for my physical health, after reading Minding the Body, Mending the Mind, by Joan Borysenko, but I had no idea that stress in a way damages our DNA (if I understand the process correctly). Yet that’s what Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel, two guest scientists on the show, were claiming.

Fascinated by their research, I looked for more information and what I found first freaked me out completely.

Apparently, chronic stress experienced by parents who have children with special needs or disabilities is very dangerous as it “may promote earlier onset of age-related diseases.” (Elissa S. Epel, Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Jue Lin, Firdaus S. Dhabhar, Nancy E. Adler, Jason D. Morrow, Richard M. Cawthon (2004) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 101, No. 49 (Dec. 7, 2004), pp. 17312-17315.)

But when I dug some more, there seems to be a glimmer of hope –further research seems to suggest that “comprehensive lifestyle changes” which include “moderate aerobic exercise […]; stress management[…], and a 1-h group support session once per week” were “significantly associated with increases in cellular telomerase activity and telomere maintenance capacity in human immune system cells.” (Dean Ornish, Jue Lin, Jennifer Daubenmier, Gerdi Weidner, Elissa Epel, Colleen Kemp, Mark Jesus M Magbanua, Ruth Marlin, Loren Yglecias,Peter R Carroll, Elizabeth H Blackburn (2008) Lancet Oncol 2008; 9: 1048–57.)

If I get it right then, I’m on a fast lane to developing age-related diseases, unless I exercise, meditate, and create a good support network for myself. I better get cracking!

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