Lifestyle Changes Increase Telomerase Activity

Telomerase activity positively associated with comprehensive interventions on diet and lifestyle

THURSDAY, Sept. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Significant increases in telomerase activity and telomere maintenance capacity were found in patients following a comprehensive lifestyle intervention, according to an article published online Sept. 16 in The Lancet Oncology.

Dean Ornish, M.D., of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif., and colleagues performed a pilot study offering 30 men with low-risk prostate cancer comprehensive lifestyle changes. Participants attended a three-day intensive retreat, and were prescribed a low-fat/low-refined sugar diet with ample unrefined grains, fruits and vegetables. Vitamin and fish oil supplements were provided and moderate aerobic exercise, stress management, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises were encouraged. The main outcome measure was telomerase enzymatic activity, a prognostic marker of disease risk, progression and premature mortality among cancer patients, measured at baseline and after three months.

Overall, 24 of 30 patients had evaluable data and telomerase activity increased by 29.84 percent. The natural logarithms of telomerase activity increased from 2.00 to 2.22, and raw values of telomerase activity increased from 8.05 standard arbitrary units to 10.38 standard arbitrary units, the report indicates. These increases were significantly associated with decreases in both low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and decreases in psychological distress, the authors write.

"To our knowledge, we have reported here the first longitudinal study showing that comprehensive lifestyle changes -- or any intervention -- are significantly associated with increases in cellular telomerase activity and telomere maintenance capacity in human immune-system cells," the authors conclude.

Ornish discloses that he is a consultant for Safeway, which partially funded the study, as well as PepsiCo and Mars.

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