Excerpt from Eva Cwynar, M.D.'s new book, "The Fatigue Solution"
A 2004 study conducted in San Francisco looked deep into the DNA of stressed-out mothers of chronically ill children. They were looking at the mothers' telomeres, the "tip" of a strand of DNA, which protects the DNA from damage. Telomeres naturally get shorter as we age, until eventually the cell dies. That's one reason we lose eyesight, hearing, and muscle strength as we age. The 2004 study showed that stress has a similar effect, shortening the telomeres of the stressed-out moms, and aging them before their time. Women with the highest levels of perceived stress had telomeres shorter on average by the equivalent of at least one decade of additional aging compared to low stress women. The good news is that those mothers who were better able to deal with stress - who had found ways of coping and maintaining a positive attitude - didn't suffer the same damage to their telomeres.
Telomeres get shorter as we age, but that can be accelerated by the way we live our lives (stress, drugs, lack of exercise, etc. accelerate the demise of the telomere). There is a genetic predisposition as to how quickly your telomeres shorten, but we're now finding that things such as growth hormone, estrogen, testosterone, and antioxidants can slow the rate of shortening.
To learn more about Dr. Eva Cwynar, visit her website: www.dreva.com