Telomeres are the end segments of every chromosome that function as a biologic time clock. Their overall length and health determines how long your cells will live.
Over the past few years it has become more and more common to measure telomere length in blood cells, specifically white blood cells that represent your immune system. Lately with the advent of the HT Q FISH technology from Life Length this type of measurement has become accurate enough for doctors and individuals who are simply interested in their health to use for monitoring purposes.
But in all this there was very fortunate accident. The cells chosen in blood were picked for 3 main reasons.
1) They were easy to get. A simple blood draw and you have everything you need without having to biopsy some major tissue.
2) Unlike Red Blood Cells, the white blood cells have a nucleus and that means they have DNA. That also means they have telomeres at the end of the segments of DNA in those white blood cells that can be measured.
3) White blood cells are turned over rapidly and are constantly being produced. To help with this process they have an enzyme that is active pretty much only in rapidly dividing cells. This enzyme is called telomerase. Telomerase turns out to also be a major key to longevity and health span as well.
So the bottom line is the measurement of Your telomeres in the blood shows the status of your immune health in many ways. Positive changes in immune health have been associated in 3 different types of studies using the telomerase activator TA-65.
Specifically human cell culture studies, animal studies and human studies have shown a positive response in the form of strengthening the immune system. Independent questionnaires I have done and others have done have shown this as well: immune strengthening means far less coughs and colds!
A study recently released from the University of Utah showed this correlation as well. Longer telomeres= stronger immune system= less sickness!
So now we have a couple of interesting points by way of review.
1) You can measure your telomere length in an effective accurate way using Life Length HT-QFISH technology.
2) You can equate this telomere length to a bunch of different things including how long you might actually be able to live* and especially how strong your immune system is**.
3) You can potentially strengthen your immune system with TA-65.
By now you might be wondering OK but what is really the big deal about the immune system other than coughs and colds?
The answer lies in the predictive value of your immune system health in terms of your overall health and quite possibly your longevity.
Let’s take the average American. One thing we can say for sure is that the average citizen of this country is way too low in Omega 3 fats and thus is walking around in an inflamed state. We can also equate this inflammation to America’s number one killer- heart disease, and a whole host of other “age related” diseases. I put that in quotes because some of you may know I think that aging IS THE DISEASE and telomere lengths is kinda like the cholesterol test of aging.
The average American being inflamed has an immune system problem. His or her own body is targeting itself. The immune system is slowly damaging areas where it should not and less able to work where it is needed. That is not a healthy Immune System. Now that does indeed show up in telomere length tests when you look at people with heart disease. Perhaps even more ironic is the significant effect of TA-65 on cholesterol. ***
What is the next hit our immune systems take? Answer: chronic and acute viral infections. You may not have or even know what things like EBV, CMV or HIV are, but as chronic viruses that overwork the immune system or in some cases poison it they represent a major risk to health.
But to a lesser degree so do things like the flu and other seasonal viruses. If you are an adult your immune system should be able to fight off even new strains of flu and not make you sick. Instead we have to rely on flu shots and other methods of defense. When we get the flu we are often sick for a lot longer than the infection should last. That represents your immune system trying to recover from the insult. If it’s weak you can very well wind up with bacterial pneumonia or some other infection following the flu. One in three people who are reading this blog know exactly what I am talking about because they have been sick for months following a flu infection.
OK that is infectious illness, age related disease, and aging overall.
Then there is the special case of cancer which strikes through “immune holes”. The Immune Surveillance theory of cancer is widely accepted now. It says that if your body has a healthy immune system cancer will not take root. It is only when there is a hole that it can get past that it can grow. Recently a drug for prostate cancer was approved that “programs your immune system to fight the cancer”. If this is not an acknowledgement of the Immune Surveillance Theory I don’t know what is!
So what should we really take from telomere measurements? Ideally we should understand they reflect the health of our Immune System and even if it’s just lucky that we can easily get these cells, it is a very important thing to know based on everything I just told you.
Simply put in many cases the Immune System is a primary driver in how well you age and how long you live.
Skeptical? Watch the mortality rates from cancer and infection climb over the next 2 decades and then tell me what you think!
How can you protect your immune system and help it do its job?
Answer: Take care of Your Telomeres!
Note: TA-65 is not a drug it’s a supplement. It is not FDA approved for anything and these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and probably never will be unless Big Pharma comes out with a Telomerase Activating Drug. That will not happen until the pioneers in the field do all the work for them first.
*and ** These statements are best supported by serial telomere measurements. You need more than one measurement at more than one point in time because what you are really looking for is the CHANGE in the length of your telomeres, not the absolute length. In addition the HT-QFISH technology is the only one that gives % short telomeres, another critical factor in see where YOU really stand.
*** This study is available on Pub Med released Oct 2013