According to Natural News Sources, Telomeres, regions of DNA which protect the ends of chromosomes from destruction, have made big news in 2009.
In fact, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded this year to researchers who investigated the nature of telomeres. Why all the interest? It appears telomeres hold the key to why we age because when a cell becomes old and dies, it’s due to the shortening of chromosomal telomeres. So, if you could keep the length of telomeres from changing, that might literally halt aging. And now comes research showing there is a natural way to impact telomeres and produce an anti-aging effect — long-term physical activity.
According to research just reported in the journal Circulation, intensive exercise can prevent a shortening of telomeres. That, the scientists found, results in a protective effect against aging on a cellular level and could be especially important in keeping the cardiovascular system healthy. So, while you can slather on expensive creams and opt for plastic surgery, if you want to actually slow down aging, your best bet is to get moving and exercise regularly.
A research team from Saarland University in Homburg, Germany, measured the length of telomeres in blood samples from a group of 32 professional runners with an average age of 20 who were on the German National Team of Track and Field. The young men regularly trained by running about 73 kilometers (km) — a little over 45 miles — each week. The scientists also measured the length of telomeres from the blood of middle-aged athletes (average age 51) who had participated in continuous endurance exercise since their youth and who ran about 80 km, or almost 50 miles, per week. These findings were then compared to the telomere lengths found in a group of healthy non-smokers, matched for age with the athletes, who didn’t exercise regularly.
The results? The scientists discovered that long-term exercise training activated an enzyme known as telomerase which reduces telomere shortening in human leukocytes (white blood cells). Telomere loss was found to be far lower in the older, master athletes who had been exercising for decades. Bottom line: the rate of telomere loss that is assumed to be normal as we grow older and that leads to the physical signs of aging can, in fact, be dramatically slowed through long term, vigorous exercise.
“This is direct evidence of an anti-aging effect of physical exercise. Physical exercise could prevent the aging of the cardiovascular system, reflecting this molecular principle,” Ulrich Laufs, M.D., the study’s lead author and professor of clinical and experimental medicine in the department of internal medicine at Saarland University, said in a statement to the media. “The most significant finding of this study is that physical exercise of the professional athletes leads to activation of the important enzyme telomerase and stabilizes the telomere.”
What’s more, previous animal studies by Dr. Laufs and colleagues have shown that exercise exerts effects on proteins that not only stabilize telomeres but also protect cells from deterioration and programmed cell death. “Our data improves the molecular understanding of the protective effects of exercise on the vessel wall and underlines the potency of physical training in reducing the impact of age-related disease,” Dr. Laufs concluded.
What is that Spot?
As time goes on, we start to notice brown spots and freckles — “souvenirs of Florida” — on the backs of our hands and on other sun exposed areas like the upper chest and face. At first these brown spots are small and light colored, but eventually they become a cosmetic problem — an obvious sign of premature aging of the skin because of ultraviolet damage from sun exposure or from tanning beds. (Learn more about Sun Damage)
By using modern high-SPF sunscreens like Ombrelle-60™ or Anthelios-60™ we can safely enjoy outdoor activities like gardening, golf and boating, and greatly reduce the rate at which our skin deteriorates. Patients who get into the habit of applying Retisol-A 0.01% cream (a prescription product which combines a retinoid and an SPF-15 sunscreen) to their faces every morning will usually see a considerable improvement in the appearance of their skin after 1-2 years, and if treatment is continued long-term patients will notice that their skin ages more slowly.
Hats and sun protective clothing can also slow down the rate at which “age spots” appear – and also reduce the chance that we will develop skin cancer. You can learn more about how to prevent sun damage, learn about the early warning signs of skin cancer and see photos of typical skin cancers at Skin Cancer Guide.ca.
The early warning signs of skin cancer include:
* new and unusual growths on the skin
* moles and freckles which have unusual colors or mixtures of colors
* moles and freckles with irregular borders
* growths on the skin which bleed, or which form an open sore which does not heal within a few weeks.
It is not too late for those of us who already have sun spots and age spots. I have seen many patients who had sun damage improve gradually over a period of 3-5 years simply in response to daily sun protection. For those who want more rapid and complete improvement in their sun damaged skin, one or two treatments with the Medlite™ laser can fade or eliminate brown “age spots” on the face, chest and hands within a few weeks.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments, for example with the Cutera Xeo-600, can be used in cases where there is a background of tiny freckles and brown discoloration – sometimes erasing 20 years of irregular pigment with a series of 20 minute treatments! Where there is severe sun damage or when a person wishes the most rapid improvement (for example, if a daughter is getting married in two months) a medicine called Levulan™ is applied to the skin for one hour before treatment with the Cutera Xeo-600. Levulan™ is absorbed by cells in the skin which are misbehaving, and then is activated by light from the Xeo-600. The abnormal cells are shed from the skin over a period of 1-2 weeks, revealing fresher, healthier skin – and giving the patient a “fresh start”.
What ever the type of spot – if you have concerns, or if you see changes in its appearance, it is important that you have it inspected by your family physician or dermatologist.
If there is one skin condition we would all like to avoid, it’s the appearance of aging before its time. The signs of aging can appear as early as our 20s. While there is truly nothing we can do to slow the passage of time, there are measures we can take to minimize the appearance that time has passed. Here are the five places aging shows up first and what you can do to keep time from catching up with you.
Nothing says “mature” like those telltale lines radiating out from the eye. The biggest cause of crow’s feet is sun exposure. The thin skin around the eyes has very little collagen and elastin to begin with. Every time you skip the sunscreen and run outside for “just a minute,” you put yourself at risk for these crinkly cretins. Protect yourself with an eye cream that contains retinoids, peptides or antioxidants and, of course, sunscreen. Newer Sunscreen products with Zinc provide the unsurpassed UVA protection of zinc oxide without the opaque “”white-out”" that has reduced zinc oxide’s appeal in the past.
Your mouth is one of the highlights of your face, so don’t let those fine lines get a foothold. Believe it or not, there was some truth when your mother warned you that your face could stick like that – puckering your lips, pursing them, smoking or even talking animatedly all take a toll on the sensitive skin around your mouth. Of course, sun exposure plays a big role here as well. The best preventative measures you can take are sunscreen and moisturizer. Like the skin around your eyes, the skin around your mouth can hold onto youth with the help of retinoids and peptides – and avoiding continued repetitive mouth movements.
Hyperpigmentation is a long word for a variety of skin color issues including brown spots, freckles and uneven dark patches. A recent study in The American Journal of Dermatology found that hyperpigmentation is the most recognized sign of age – above even fine lines and wrinkles themselves. There are a variety of causes of hyperpigmentation and not all of them can be avoided but, once again, sun exposure is the chief culprit. The sun can accentuate existing freckles and cause dark patches to emerge. Other causes include rising estrogen levels brought on by some birth control medications. To protect yourself, once again, it’s sunscreen to the rescue. For dark patches that have already shown up, hydroquinone has been shown to be an effective bleaching agent.
Recent research has pointed to allergies as having more to do with dark circles than lack of sleep. Allergies can cause inflammation and dilated blood vessels under the eyes. If dark circles have reared their ugly head, try an over the counter allergy medication with an antihistamine. There are other causes of these dark circles as well – some of which you cannot control. There is a web of fine veins under your eyes that can add unwanted color in that area and iron oxide can also leak from the capillaries under the eyes – apparently from sinus inflammation. There is little you can do about the presence of these blood vessels, but you can keep them from getting worse. The skin is thin and the light trauma of even rubbing your eyes can cause damage and darken these circles.