Ok you’ve seen me beat up on the QPCR as a tool for accurate assessment of telomere length in the recent Ornish study. To my mind that was the absolute worst use of that technology and it invalidates much of what the authors concluded primarily because the study was so small and did not correlate well with telomerase activity. If you haven’t read that blog it’s here .
But another recent study that used this technology was exactly the kind where QPCR might actually be useful… sort of. You’ll see why I am qualifying it.
Keep in mind as you read this that the vagaries of these studies are not even in the consciousness of the people writing about them. They just look at the study and parrot back the conclusions as if they were fact. Apparently most people want exactly that with very little consideration for “the truth” because if the study supports their agenda, they are not going to want to hear anything that raises questions. Again if you read my blog on the Ornish study you will see that is not my way either.
Now onto this new study out of Holland. The gist of it is: if you are significantly neurotic you are shortening your telomeres and probably your lifespan and your health span more rapidly than you should be and more rapidly than someone who is better emotionally balanced!
This study had all the things the “Ornish” study did not. It had an “n” of over 3300 people. It used the telomere measurement over long periods of time between measurements, 1, 3, and 6 years. The combination of the large number of participants and the long delay between assays especially the 3 and 6 year gaps helps make up for some of the inaccuracies in this kind of test because the numbers give it more ability to predict trends and the time gives more chance for REAL changes in telomere length that are within the detection of the tests ability to actually happen. To the statisticians in the audience you know I just simplified the heck out of that explanation but most of the folks reading this will understand it and would not get the terminology you like to use!
Now would have HTQFISH been a better choice? Absolutely! It would have actually looked at the telomeres and seen the percentage of short telomeres as well as mean telomere length. And it would have delivered the data in almost exactly the same time frame with more accuracy allowing the authors to have a shorter and potentially cheaper cost to the study while giving more information.
Why didn’t they do that instead? I can only guess but they weren’t looking for individual information only large group and mostly because scientists have not caught on yet to this technology! You can experience it yourself if you want to at ADL Tests.
Now comes the critique part of the study e.g. what is wrong with it. Mainly that they had to use a questionnaire to access neuroticism. Questionnaires are a necessary evil in things like nutrition, exercise/injury study and psychiatry but they are fraught with potential errors mainly because people don’t always tell the truth when they talk about themselves!
Still if you look at some of the better studies that Epel and Blackburn have done in the past it fits with the findings. Mental stress whether self inflicted or related to “the others” in one’s life shortens our lives and can wreck our health almost as surely as some physical disease.
So what can you do if you are stressed, neurotic or carrying around harmful mental wounds?
Well you can start by forgiving yourself and valuing yourself. Then you can forgive and value others!
In the process you might read our little book The Immortality Edge – but hurry even Amazon is running out of them! You will find there several ways to achieve physical and mental balance that have worked for many people. Some are expensive (TA 65) and some cost nothing.
Only YOU can decide how much you are worth!