Apr

4

Like many aspects of biological systems, too much of a good thing may not work out so well. Although this is preliminary research, this is perhaps a cautionary tale as it looks like telomere length may follow a U shaped curve in terms of adverse health effects:

"Telomere Length Predicts Cancer Risk, According to Large Epidemiological Study"

Larry Williams writes: 

My telomere expert wades in on this:

There have been a number of studies that have shown the opposite of this result, but these other studies have not been focused on the really long telomeres so more studies are needed. This study on the surface seems like a lot of people but if you get down to how many had "unexpectedly long telomeres" it probably was not very many people. And another issue is how did these people get these "unexpectedly long telomeres"? Could there be some force at work there that also led to increase cancer?

The thing about having long telomeres is that no one taking cycloastragenol or doing anything else is getting anywhere near the telomere length we have in childhood. We are born with 15,000 basepairs. And yet cancer in youth is rare.

The cause of cancer seems to be DNA damage. But what often sets it off is running out of telomeres which leads to a cascade of events that allows the cell to go full cancerous. So keeping the telomeres from getting critically short is a very important way to prevent cancer.

One thing about the telomerase enzyme in a healthy cell is that there is a control mechanism that is much more likely to use it to create more telomeres if the telomere length is short and not if the telomere length is long. That is why people who are tested using the length distribution method, which indicates the percentage of telomeres under 4,000 base pairs, will see their short telomeres get long first (within a few months) and then only years later see their average move up.

So the increase of the telomerase enzyme in a healthy cell is used in a well regulated manner to make short telomeres longer but does not have that effect on longer telomeres.
 


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