There were two recent studies looking at aging in young black men. The first linked experiencing racism to shorter telomeres. Aside from what has to be something that is difficult to quantify, it is safe to say this is a negative stress. It is also safe to say that negative stress accelerates aging. It is also safe to say that our perception of stress is the main thing that causes the problem. As I mentioned in my newsletters and blogs an oft quoted study involving Nobel Laureate Liz Blackburn showed that people perceive the same stress differently as measured by urinary excretion of stress chemicals.
It calls to mind Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote, “No One can make you feel inferior without your consent!”
This week another study, this time in “at risk” black youths showed that even at the tender young age of 9 there are budding differences in telomere length. There are numerous studies and theories about the racial differences in life expectancy in this country. Many of them center on social stresses, income gaps and health care. Some have pointed to genetic differences especially in the tendency for black men to get prostate cancer and hypertension.
There have even been some genetic differences and SNP’s (single nucleotide polymorphisms) identified.
But I can tell you two things that have not been looked at that would make a huge difference and guess what Father Time turns a blind eye to your skin color if these are “off”.
1) Omega 3 level. As fate would have it blacks tend to metabolize Omega 6’s even faster than whites and Omega 3’s even slower. On an African plains diet or even a costal Paleolithic one these enzymatic differences do not make much difference. But in American and the Western world where Omega 6’s abound and Omega 3’s are scarce the outcomes are predictable!
Now if you are not black but you live anywhere but an Aleut village or an Owkinawan coastal town you are probably in a similar boat. You can eat a ton of fish- get a ton of mercury which our government says is “OK”. Or you can take a few capsules of Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil and be done.
2) Telomere length. No one has done race specific telomere measurements in age matched controls but telomere erosion with aging is no longer a “maybe sorta kinda” thing. Even the curmudgeonliest scientist has had to ‘fess up and say “I believe” to the studies that show telomeres are a major and treatable cause of aging and unhealthiness.
Father time doesn’t care if you are black or white it will happen to you no matter what but:
In 2010, white women had the highest life expectancy at birth, 81.3 years, followed by black women (78.0 years), white men (76.5 years) and black men (71.8 years). Life expectancy for the U.S. population as a whole was 78.7 years. I would bet my career all of these differences can be boiled down to telomere length.
So no matter who you are you should do something to “take care of your telomeres” as I always say.
Here is one simple option:
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By the way fixing #1 above will slow down telomere loss as well so now you have 3 things you can do with supplements alone. Some do all 3, some only 2, some one, but none is not a good answer to this problem, because Father Time WILL NOT turn a blind eye to that!