Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Lifestyle Impacts The Length of Telomeres of Chromosomes

When I attended elementary school, we were taught that wealthy ancient Romans would tickle the back of their throat with a feather to induce vomiting after dinner. Although that ritual probably put a damper on any postprandial romance (unless mouthwash was provided with the meal), it allowed them to engage in their greatest delight - eating more food. Whether or not that custom is mythical, it does bring to mind similar, modern practices of many Americans today.

I sometimes ask insulin-dependent diabetics a simple, yet revealing question. If they could give up all food except some basic green vegetables for one month, and by doing so, cure themselves of their diabetes, would they do it? Sadly, the answer is always a resounding "no." They explained to me that they are unwilling to deny themselves any food. Rather than monitor their diet, they prefer to inject themselves with additional insulin when required.

I was with a friend once late at night, and we stopped for a bite to eat after a movie. He suffered from heartburn and acid reflux, and wondered aloud whether it was too late to take a prescription pill for his condition. He pondered his choices for a moment, and then confidently popped the pill into his mouth. He then proceeded to order cheese fries, a bacon cheeseburger, and some onion rings - despite the lateness of the hour. Surprised by his decision, I asked him why he didn't just avoid those foods, and order something lighter and easier to digest. He gazed at me incredulously, and then explained that was the purpose of the pills. I suggested that he should forego another tub of greasy, buttered popcorn on the next movie night. It might save him a pill.

Fried foods, trans-fats, sugary desserts, and salty snacks - why avoid them when a simple pill will counter their deleterious effects? People I know would prefer to take medication for their high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. We can actually alleviate most of these health conditions - and even physical pain, insomnia, and arthritis - by altering dietary intake. However, few people will deny themselves the foods that they enjoy.

When it comes to weight loss, nearly everyone tries over-the-counter diet pills before sacrificing that extra helping of greasy fries or a sweet, tempting dessert. When those pills fail, many turn to prescription medicine for weight loss. In addition, as I noted in my article, "The Truth About Weight Loss," many people prefer to endure grueling exercise regimens that they dread and hate, rather than deny themselves the foods whispering their sweet names as they pass by the refrigerator. Incidentally, my refrigerator has an alluring, female, British accent. Still haven't gotten her name though. The decision to exercise and ignore diet is usually a losing proposition, because it's difficult to lose weight on a treadmill with a milk shake in one hand, and a chicken wrap in the other.

For people who are extremely overweight, some prefer to undergo operations like gastric banding, liposuction, gastric bypass, or stomach stapling instead of altering their diet. Whatever the ailment, Americans prefer to pop pills, exercise their jiggling belly away, or undergo surgery, despite the fact that all operations pose some risk, and nearly every drug has side effects.

Centuries ago, Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." So, we have long known the association between a healthy diet and good health. But it's been either forgotten or purposefully ignored in modern society.

Historians still debate whether Roman nobility actually used feathers to induce vomiting. After all, vomiting is hardly an enjoyable experience. And, I imagine one's appetite would be a bit suppressed afterwards - especially if your seat is nearest the vomitorium.

Today, too many American's are willing to endure nearly any level of suffering to lose their excess weight - except sacrificing the foods that they love. It might not be as unsettling as tickling the back of the throat with a feather, but the result is eerily similar.
You will want to compare MRO services third-party administrator to another. This will make it easier for you to determine who you will work with. If a medical review officer isn't able to provide you with quality services, or enough services, it's only going to cause more work for you. This can be avoided simply by taking the time to research your options before choosing one over another.

Look at Services
One of the first things you need to do when comparing MRO services is look at the full extent of services that are offered. Not all companies offer the same, and you don't want to end up having to hire two companies in order to do everything for you. It will be easier and more affordable to have one company handle everything. Some of the services to explore include:

Before you cross out one administrator because they don't offer the same number of services as another, determine what services you actually need. If you only need three or four from the list, then the administrator that offers fewer services may be capable of providing you with everything.

Program Implementation
Some companies will provide MRO services only after you have implemented a program. However, you may need help starting the program. If you are a new business, or you have just decided you want to create a drug and alcohol testing program, you may need to rely heavily on a medical review officer. This person can guide you through the program standards. The two of you can talk about what is needed, and they can do a significant amount of the work for you. This cannot only save you time, but ensure that you have captured everything. You can also rely on someone else's expertise to help you implement a quality program that you can truly benefit from.

While cost shouldn't be the primary way to compare MRO services, it is something that you will want to look at. You don't want to spend any more than absolutely necessary. Talk to a medical review officer and find out what their fees are. Is it a flat fee? Do they charge for each service? These are the questions you will want to have answered before you determine you have captured all of the expenses. Only then can you start to budget what it will be to have a medical review officer as a third-party administrator and to assist you throughout the operation of your drug and alcohol testing program. You can typically compare the MRO services online. This will allow you to see what everyone offers. You may even want to contact them individually to ask a few questions. Be sure to ask the same questions of every administrator. This will make it easier to compare apples to apples. Once you have your questions answered and you have done sufficient research, you are better armed to make a decision.
Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes. They have been allegorized commonly as the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces, which are likely to get frayed without them. Similarly, without telomeres DNA strands become damaged. They are actually disposable protective buffers blocking the ends of the chromosomes. They are consumed during cell division but are replenished by an enzyme - the telomerase reverse transcriptase.

Role of telomerase -

The main function of telomerase is the elongation of telomeres, which enables cells to increase their replicative capacity, sometimes even indefinitely. However, low expression of telomerase, for example in some normal fibroblasts, cannot maintain telomere length.

Telomerase also shows important roles in stem cell proliferation, as well as reprogramming of induced pluripotent stem cells. An induced pluripotent stem cell is a cell taken from any tissue (usually skin or blood) from a child or adult and is genetically modified to behave like an embryonic stem cell. The mechanism of these telomerase functions is still not completely clear.

Functions of telomeres -

Basically, telomeres function as follows:

1. They cap up chromosome ends principally protecting them from DNA degradation. Their length serves as an intrinsic biological clock that regulates the life span of the cell. In other words, they provide limits on the number of replications a cell can go through.

2. They also protect chromosomes from fusion with other chromosomal ends. Uncapped telomeres are able to initiate the DNA damage and cause end-to-end fusions, resulting in chromosomal instability, cellular senescence and apoptosis (programmed cell death). Telomere repeats are lost with each round of cell replication and most somatic cells express insufficient telomerase to compensate for the loss of telomere repeats.

Lifestyle factors impacting telomeres -

Telomere length, which can be affected by various lifestyle factors, can affect the pace of aging and onset of age-associated diseases. Telomeres are shortened as we age, but telomeres can also be shortened by stress, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and a poor diet.

The following are the common causes responsible for the shortening of telomeres:

Aging - Telomere length negatively correlates with age. Telomere length may determine overall health, lifespan, and the rate at which an individual is aging.

Smoking - Smoking seems to have adverse effect on telomeres, shortening their length. Studies have found that the telomere attrition caused by smoking one pack of cigarettes a day for a period of 40 years is equivalent to 7.4 years of life. Oxidative stress caused by smoking is mainly responsible for telomere attrition, resulting in their shortening.

Obesity - Obesity is also associated with increased oxidative stress and DNA damage. Studies show that the excessive loss of telomeres in obese individuals may be equivalent to 8.8 years of life, an effect which seems to be worse than smoking.

Environmental pollution - Exposure to traffic and industrial pollution can adversely affect telomeres. Reduction of the length of telomeres in a person is intimately related to numbers of years and severity of exposure to environmental pollution.

Stress - The stress is associated with release of glucocorticoid hormones by the adrenal glands, which cause increased oxidative damage to DNA and accelerated telomere shortening.

Unhealthy diet - Unhealthy diet deficient in various macro and micro- nutrients can also result in shortening of telomeres as result of damage caused by oxidative stress. Dietary restriction or eating less has an extremely positive impact on health and longevity. The reduction in oxidative stress by dietary restriction is expected to preserve telomeres and other cellular components.

Lack of exercise - The duration of exercise inversely co-relates with the damage to the DNA and telomeres. Regular exercise has been found to be associated with elevated telomerase activity. Furthermore, regular exercise seems to be associated with reduced oxidative stress and may, therefore, reduce the pace of aging and age-associated diseases.

The bottom line -

Telomeres are significantly affected by age and our lifestyle. Shorter telomeres have also been implicated in genomic instability. The rate of telomere shortening is, therefore, critical to an individual's health and pace of aging.

The length of the telomeres of chromosomes is the predictor of how we are undergoing the process of aging; they also predict the onset of age-related diseases in individuals. However, they are notably influenced by our lifestyle. Thus we can delay the process of shortening of telomeres by making positive changes in the lifestyle.

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