At the ends of human DNA are telomeres that protect the ends of each chromosome from fraying (like preventing the ends of a rope from fraying). When cells divide in a normal fashion, the telomeres shorten. After a critical number of cell divisions, cells will reach a critical length and then die a normal death. This process of cell division and cell death is normal and helps to get rid of worn out and damaged cells. However, if the process occurs too quickly, the result can be an acceleration of the aging process as well as earlier onset of age-related diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers.
A study of the effect of psychological stress on telomeres by researchers at the University of California San Francisco established a link between stress hormones and the shortening of the length of telomeres in human cells. A recent follow-up study by researchers at the University of California San Francisco sought to determine what protective effect, if any, physical exercise may have on cell damage caused by stress. The study participants were divided into three groups: post-menopausal women who were the primary caregivers for a family member with dementia; young to middle-age adults suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders; and, healthy women from ages 50 to 65 who were non-smokers.
The study found that exercise may help to prevent the shortening of telomeres related to traumatic events and/or chronic stress which may help prevent or delay the onset of age-related diseases. Other research has shown that the length of telomeres directly relates to the amount of stress that someone is under and the number of years that the person has been under stress (one study suggested that for every year a stressed mother was taking care of a critically ill child, the mother aged about six years). However, a recently discovered enzyme known as telomerase can have a healing effect and help repair the damage.
For an interesting YouTube segment discussing telomeres, click here.
So, what can we do to live longer and healthier lives? Reduce stress in our lives and get the appropriate amount of exercise!
Taking care of a chronically ill or injured family member can cause much stress that can lead to medically significant problems. When a person is severely or permanently injured as a result of medical errors or medical mistakes, the medical negligence affects not only the victim of the medical malpractice but also the caregivers who now must provide around-the-clock care to their injured loved one.
When a negligent medical care provider causes serious injuries, visit our website to be connected to medical malractice lawyers in your area who may be able to help you seek compensation for the losses of the victim of medical malpractice and for the caregiver who also suffers the consequences of the negligent medical care. If you prefer, you may call us toll free at 800-295-3959.
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