Long Telomeres Boost Resistance To Colds
There is still no cure for the common cold, but there may be a way to avoid one. A recent study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University and published in JAMA reports that people with shorter telomeres faced an increased risk of catching a cold. What’s a telomere? The Los Angeles Times, which reports on the study, describes them as DNA “caps” that sit at the end of chromosomes and protect them from damage. In other studies, shorter telomeres have been connected to aging, and aging related diseases. The new research measured telomeres in 152 healthy adults, ages 18 to 55, then placed the study participants in quarantine for six days, administering nasal drops containing a virus that causes the common cold (rhinovirus type 39) after the first 24 hours. Over the course of the experiment, 69 percent of the participants, or 105 people, were infected with the virus; 22 percent, or 33 people, developed colds. The Times reports that the researchers found that shorter telomeres in four types of blood cells were associated with greater risk of infection, with the strongest link occurring in a type of T-cell called CD8CD28- cells. Shorter telomere length in CD8CD28- cells was also associated with clinical illness (that is, getting a cold). So what can you do to lengthen your telomeres? An informational page about telomeres published by the University of California at San Francisco reports that telomere length has been linked to psychological states and lifestyle, it is likely that the following factors may help maintain or even lengthen our telomeres: Increasing vigorous exercise to 4 to 5 times a week; Improving overall nutrition; If overweight, losing that extra weight; Reducing psychological stress and depression level.