Health, Lifestyle

Telomeres: Can we really know how long we will live?

In a world where we are surprised by science, the ability to know how long we will live could be an alternative way of planning exactly our time of existence.


Roberto F. Campos


However, science and myths currently almost go hand in hand, where parapsychology and other elements play a type of role in revitalising humans or simply creating expectations which can sometimes become a reality, but most of which only amount to a kind of game.

The recently published “aging test” may fall into this category, giving each human being the date of their passing, or the more serious illnesses they will face, and in so doing, it enables people to plan what they really want to do in life.

We are talking about a test which measures biological age using an improved aging biomarker or telomeres.

This allows you to record the number of cell divisions and scientists believe that such structures provide accurate indications of the rate of aging.

This analysis, therefore, measures the telomeres, the parts of DNA located at either end of the chromosomes, which control cell division and the lifetime of the cell.

The research was undertaken jointly by the company Life Length founded by María Blasco, director of the National Centre for Oncology Research (CNIO) in Spain, together with the Botín Foundation and the consulting firm, Matlin Associates.

According to the company, a person can send a blood sample to the laboratory to determine their length of telomeres, and from this, a biological age can be calculated which may be greater or less than their chronological age.

Doctor Blasco emphasizes that the length of the telomeres does not predict how long you will live, but can provide vital information concerning the risk of premature death due to age-related illnesses such as cardiovascular disease or cancer.

The specialist adds that they do not try to determine when a person will die, as the test simply indicates the length of the telomeres in comparison to the normal range for the person’s age group. For others, it can reveal dangerous telomeres, which are extremely short.

She notes that it has been known for some time that people born with shorter telomeres have a higher risk of certain age-related illnesses such as infections and neurological disorders.

She does state however, that because someone has shorter telomeres it does not necessarily mean that they will develop illnesses, but just that they are at risk.

What the test can indicate is when an organism has aged or its state of health.  Although the scientific community have not yet questioned the seriousness of this type of research, many experts believe that not enough is yet known for such information to be truly useful.

However, Doctor Blasco recalls that when they began associating high cholesterol levels with cardiovascular diseases, there were then no treatments to reduce the problem.

Therefore, we can only wait and ponder over whether we really do want to know the date of our passing, or if it is a useful aid during our life.

(Translated by Louise Jefferson – Email: louise@jeffersontranslations.com)

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