15 June 2015

Telomere length predicts illness and mortality – what you can do to reduce your risks

Regular readers will be aware by now that telomeres are the protective caps on the end of our DNA strands. A large new study has confirmed that shorter telomeres are associated with increased risk of major illness and death. Happily, this new research tells us what we can do to support our telomeres, save ourselves many potential problems and quite reasonably expect to live longer.

So this week, courtesy of an old friend who I studied veterinary science with, Dr Trevor Chatham, details of the study along with confirmation of why a healthy lifestyle makes so much sense and how it works in a biochemical sense to actually make so much difference in our lives.

Then news of an exciting movie premier to benefit the Gawler Foundation that has been made possible by our friends at Village Roadshow, but first

Thought for the day
          Relax without laziness

          Focus without tension

          Perceive without projecting 

         Witness without judging

         Enjoy without craving

         Reflect without imagining

        Love without condition

        Give without demanding

        Receive without possessing
Serve without self-seeking

        Challenge without dominating

        Meditate without identity

Correct without blaming

Overcome without pride

Laugh without cynicism

Cry without pity

Confront without hatred

Guide without superiority 

Be without self-defining

Live without arrogance

Enter without self-importance

Depart without regret

Be one with God


In April 2015, a Danish study was published that tracked 65,000 people over a median of 7 years. The bottom line was that telomere length robustly predicts longevity, even after factoring out the effect of age, smoking, exercise, blood cholesterol, BMI, and alcohol consumption.

This adds immensely to our knowledge of telomere length and its predictive power.  For perspective, the original [2003] study by Cawthon detected the relationship between telomere length and mortality based on fewer than 200 subjects.

The new data set is large enough to show trends over all of the health-related lifestyle variables. Smoking, inactivity, weight (body mass index), and alcohol consumption all correlated negatively with telomere length.  So it should not be surprising that blood pressure and LDL choloesterol also correlated negatively with telomere length, and it is then a foregone conclusion that mortality must correlate negatively with telomere length.

This demonstrates without a doubt that unhealthy behaviours lead to shorter telomeres, as Epel and Blackburn have been telling us for a decade.

They have also emphasized the converse:

Healthy life choices lead to longer, healthier life through the medium of longer telomeres.

The references are well worth checking out:

Reference 1
Reference 2
Reference 3
Reference 4

The bottom line of this new, large study is the extra predictive power of telomere length, even after all these other lifestyle and indicator variables are factored out.  Correcting for smoking, correcting for age, correcting for weight and cholesterol and exercise habits, there is still a powerful negative correlation between telomere length and mortality.

The shorter your telomeres, the greater your chance of dying.  The 10% of people with the shortest telomeres were dying at 1.4 the rate of the 10% with the longest telomeres, a result that was overwhelmingly statistically apparent (p<2×10-15)

Dr Trevor Chatham BVSc


Editor’s note. Research into the role telomeres play in health is accelerating at quite a pace. It is becoming clearer that one of the most direct ways to explain the connection between how an unhealthy lifestyle actually increases the risk of developing any of the chronic degenerative diseases and of dying early, is that the unhealthy lifestyle prematurely shortens telomeres and that is associated with higher risks of adverse events.

What to do? This research confirms that a healthy lifestyle protects telomeres. Other research by Dean Ornish has even shown that a healthy lifestyle can increase telomere length over 5 years.

We also know meditation is associated with increasing telomerase levels and as Ornish showed that translated into longer telomeres, maybe meditation does that too.

We also know some herbs protect telomeres and may increase telomerase, so we are far from powerless!

Service your car? Of course! Service your telomeres? What?


Awake  -  Charity premier film screening – highly recommended 

Support the Gawler Foundation and see an inspiring, uplifting film

Many readers will know of the great Hindu yogi Yogananda and his landmark book Autobiography of a Yogi. Yogananda came to the West from India in 1920, taught Kriya Yoga and played a major role in popularizing meditation, yoga and its philosophy.

Autobiography of a Yogi has been in print for over sixty-five years and translated into at least thirty-four languages. It is a book I have recommended for decades, being an extraordinary introduction into the world of the yogis.

Now a feature film has been made of Yogananda’s life and the Gawler Foundation will screen a charity premier at the delightful Rivoli Cinema in Hawthorn, courtesy of our friends at Village Roadshow, in just a couple of weeks.

Awake - The Life of Yogananda

Special Gawler Foundation Fundraising screening

When: Monday 29th June, 6.45pm for a 7pm start

Where: Rivoli Village Cinemas, 200 Camberwell Road, Hawthorn East

Tickets:$20  BOOK HERE 

An exciting new website is being launched tomorrow in Melbourne and you can attend!

PRICELESS VITALITY helps people around the world gain access to health care and support at a price they can afford. Finding innovative and sustainable ways for people to share healthy products and services through our online marketplace and community activities.


Cairns weekend meditation intensive – June 20 and 21 – Non-residential

Meditation is the greatest gift you can give to yourself, or someone you care for

Date              Saturday, Sunday 20th and 21st June. Starts 10am (arrive 9.30) to 5pm
Venue           Khacho Yulo Ling Buddhist Centre, 348 Severin Street, Cairns
Enquiries      Call  07 4041 5556    or email   info@yuloling.com
Bookings      Online, go to :  www.yuloling.comwww.yuloling.com      or call Rinchen    07 4041 5556

Medicine of the Mind – Cairns Evening Public Lecture – June 23

For everyone interested in the power within

Date                Tuesday 23rd June, 2015      Starts 7pm (arrive 6.30) to 10pm
Venue             Khacho Yulo Ling Buddhist Centre, 348 Severin St
Enquiries        Call  07 4041 5556    or email   info@yuloling.com
Bookings        Online, go to :  www.yuloling.com     or call Rinchen    07 4041 5556

1 comment:

  1. I spy a roo with long teleomeres.
    Great photo Ian - I hadn't realised that you were back treating animals again! Did you manage to get him onto a vegan diet in addition to the meditation?
    Betsy xx