I came across a paper recently that combines two research areas that I find extremely interesting: the use of salivary telomere length (TL) as a biomarker to predict biological age, and the psychological and physiological effects of negative stress on health and longevity. The paper, titled Marital disruption is associated with shorter salivary telomere length in a probability sample of older adults by Mark Whisman et al. (2016), explores the hypothesis that marital disruption accelerates cellular aging as characterized by salivary TL. This exciting paper explores the themes of salivary telomere utility in study design, as well as the long-term consequences of stressful life events.Read More
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Telomeres are an emerging area of genetic research with many new studies being published that highlight fascinating results. Telomeres reside at the end of each chromosome in our bodies. They have no genetic function and are simply stretches of DNA that protect the rest of the chromosome. However, these little bits of DNA, or telomeres, are critical to healthy cell function. They become shorter each time the cell divides. Telomere shortening means the cell’s lifespan is also decreasing. Recent research shows that decrease in telomere length plays an important role in human disease and mortality with many studies showing associations between shorter telomere length and various types of cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis, cognitive function, dementia, and arthritis. On the flip side, long telomeres are related to healthy aging and overall longevity.