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Multivitamins Might Prolong Life
Date:5/18/2009

By preserving protective ends of DNA, aging might be slowed, study suggests,,

MONDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Multivitamins may help women live longer by preventing parts of their DNA from shortening, a new study has found.

Telomeres, or the end portion of chromosomes, protect chromosomes from damage. Because telomeres shorten slightly when cells divide, researchers speculated that preventing this shortening could protect new cells and thus reduce the effects of aging.

"This study provides the first epidemiological evidence that multivitamin use is associated with longer leukocyte telomeres among women," said lead researcher Dr. Honglei Chen, head of the Aging & Neuroepidemiology Group at the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. "It is not yet clear if this association is causal."

The report appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

For the study, Chen's team analyzed data on 586 women participating in the Sisters Study, which included women who had breast cancer and their cancer-free siblings. As part of that study, the women were asked about their use of vitamin supplements over a 12-year span. The researchers also took blood samples and tested DNA.

"We found that multivitamin use was associated with longer leukocyte telomeres," Chen said. "Compared with nonusers, daily multivitamin users had, on average, 5.1 percent longer leukocyte telomeres."

This corresponds to about 9.8 years less age-related telomere shortening, the researchers noted.

Vitamins C and E from diet also were associated with longer telomeres, Chen said.

But, whether the vitamins preserved telomere length or actually lengthened life is not clear, Chen said.

"We could not exclude the possibility that the association could be explained by a healthy lifestyle," he said. "Although shorter telomere length has been linked to hi
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