Young To Your Cells

I have come across these twice this week: telomeres. They are the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes which ensure that cells keep renewing themselves. First of all, an article about people who have had acne have less of a problem with wrinkles. Followed by an investigation into the rejuvenating effects of endurance training. How does this work?

What are telomeres
In order to explain more precisely what telomeres are, I first need to talk about the process of cell division. All cells in the body have a limited existence and so are being continuously replaced by new ones. The speed at which, and thereby the number of times, this happens is dependent on the tissue type. Cells in the brain, for instance, are replaced less frequently than cells in the skin. Cell renewal takes place through cell division. During this process the cell’s DNA is replicated. In order to manage the smooth transition, and prevent damage or entanglement to the DNA strings on the chromosomes during cell division, protective caps are located at the ends: the telomeres.

How cells gradually die
Every time cell division occurs the telomeres become shorter. And the shorter the protective ends become, the less protection the chromosomes have. When the telomeres become too short, the DNA is damaged, the cell ages and eventually dies. Wouldn’t it be great if we could extend those telomeres…
This is exactly where much research is now concentrated. Notably, research into skin ageing. Could putting a halt to the shortening process of telomeres keep you young?

Damage limitation

In fact to put it simply, the length of telomeres determine how long a cell lasts. This length lies pretty much in our genes. However, external influences certainly seem to be able to influence the speed at which the protective caps shorten. Unhealthy habits such as smoking, a high sugar diet, alcohol and exposure to UV rays, cause oxidative stress. Or: damage to DNA. Stress and depression also cause rapid shortening of telomeres. But interestingly enough; the other way around, for example, a diet with sufficient antioxidants can limit the damage. And now a study has revealed that certain forms of exercise can have an effect on the length of telomeres.

Sport as anti-ageing
A team of Belgium biomedical scientists carried out a minor study into the effect of spinning on the muscle cells. The researchers reached the conclusion that 45 minutes of endurance training can give a huge boost to telomeres. Simply put: training literally keeps your muscle cells young.
Earlier this week there was a lot of attention given to the investigation, by the King’s College in London, into skin ageing in people who have experienced acne. The British researchers revealed that people with a history of acne have longer telomeres in certain white blood cells. It was also found that a certain gene concerned with pre-programmed cell death is less active in acne patients. That may help to explain why people with acne suffer less with wrinkles and thin skin. It has often been assumed that this was due to oilier skin.

In the skin
Telomeres in skin cells are very sensitive to an accelerated shortening due to rapid cell division of the skin layers, as well as free radical oxidation from external influences (UV rays). Do you want to keep wrinkles at bay? Then you now know why it is perhaps necessary to keep your diet and skin care routine supplied with enough antioxidants. A good workout, enough rest and proper protection against the sun’s rays all help to conserve your cells.

Kind regards,


Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology

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