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Fish Oil Omega-3 Fatty Acids keep you younger biologically

Jan 20, 2010

     High blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids may slow cellular ageing in people with coronary heart disease, suggests a new study. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco looked at the length of telomeres, DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes that shorten as cells replicate and age. The ageing and lifespan of normal, healthy cells are linked to the shortening of telomeres; end caps on your genes. During cell replication, the telomeres function by ensuring the cell's chromosomes do not fuse with each other or rearrange, a process which can lead to cancer. However, you loose a little bit of the telomere end caps every time a cell is replaced. Elizabeth Blackburn, a telomere pioneer at the University of California San Francisco, likened telomeres to the ends of shoelaces, without which the lace would unravel.
     With each replication the telomeres shorten, and when the telomeres are totally consumed, the cells are destroyed (apoptosis). Previous studies have also reported that telomeres are highly susceptible to oxidative stress. Some experts have noted that telomere length may be a marker of biological ageing. “Among patients with stable coronary artery disease, there was an inverse relationship between baseline blood levels of marine omega-3 fatty acids and the rate of telomere shortening over 5 years,” wrote the researchers, led by Ramin Farzaneh-Far. “These findings raise the possibility that omega-3 fatty acids may protect against cellular aging in patients with coronary heart disease,” they added. The research adds to a large body of science supporting the potential health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly in relation to heart health.
     The UCSF researchers looked at telomere length in blood cells of 608 outpatients with stable coronary artery disease. The length of telomeres was measured in leukocytes at the start of the study and again after 5 years. Comparing levels of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA with subsequent change in telomere length, the researchers found that individuals with the lowest average levels of DHA and EPA experienced the most rapid rate of telomere shortening, while people with the highest average blood levels experienced the slowest rate of telomere shortening. “Each 1-standard deviation increase in DHA plus EPA levels was associated with a 32 per cent reduction in the odds of telomere shortening,” wrote the authors. The research is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association