Telomere Study

University of Utah researchers may have discovered some profound tips for longer life. In fact, they're literally the tips at the ends of our chromosomes.

Researchers call the tips of the chromosomes, telomeres. If you look at the stained samples in a microscope, the ends of the chromosomes show up as little yellow dots.

As we get older, these tips tend to shorten and fuse at the end. In one respect, it's a protective move. But on the down side, cells lose their vitality. We become more vulnerable to heart disease, cancer and all kinds of infectious diseases.

The Utah team studied 143 families in the state genetically predisposed to a condition, which produces a form of premature aging.

But the data has implications for us all. University geneticists found people with longer telomeres tend to live longer. Those with shorter tips-don't!

The difference in survival is in part attributable to the people with shorter telomeres. Having a higher chance of dying from heart disease as well as a higher chance of dying from infectious diseases.

But finding a way to keep these tips active could change the outcome.

Antioxidant foods appear to play a major role in keeping cells active and healthy.

Also, drugs with special enzymes might keep the tips of these lifelines from shortening.

Researchers hope this new information will help extend the duration of healthy adult life using medical interventions that maintain telomere length.