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Exercise may prevent stress on telomeres, a measure of cell health
Date:4/4/2011

A 2004 study led by Blackburn and UCSF colleague Elissa Epel, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry, suggested that psychological stress may impact the length of telomeres in immune system cells. They reported that the perception of psychological stress in female caregivers of chronically sick children was related to shorter telomeres in lymphocytes, key cells of the immune system. This offered the first evidence that telomere maintenance potentially mediates the well documented detrimental effects of stress on health. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nov. 29, 2004)

In the current research, one study, led by Epel, followed for two years 63 healthy postmenopausal women who were the primary caregivers for a family member with dementia. In an earlier analysis of 36 of these women, pessimism was associated with high levels of a pro-inflammatory protein often associated with aging and disease states, and with short telomeres. In a recent and separate analysis of the full group of women, an increase in perceived stress was related to an increase in the odds of having short telomeres only in the non-exercising women. Among those who exercised, perceived stress was unrelated to telomere length. In the current analysis of the larger group, it was revealed that an increase in perceived stress over the course of one year was associated with a decrease in telomere length during that time.

A second study, led by Aoife O'Donovan, PhD, and Thomas Neylan, MD, UCSF professor of psychiatry at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, examined 43 people ages 20 to 50 with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder. They were compared to 47 age- and sex-matched individuals without PTSD.The results showed a relationship between PTSD and short telomere length. But even more interesting, said Lin, the finding showed that, in these adults, exposure to childhood trauma at or before age 14 also was associated with telomere shortening and accounted fo
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Contact: Jennifer O'Brien
jennifer.o'brien@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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