The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1073: How Can You Change the Way Your Genes Behave? (Archive)

Find out how the telomere effect can make a difference for your health. How can you live so your telomeres will get longer instead of shorter?
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How Can You Change the Way Your Genes Behave? (Archive)

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Why do some people appear to age more rapidly than others? Not only might they look older, they actually feel older as well. A check of their telomeres indicates that they are aging more rapidly at the cellular levels. Their telomeres are shrinking. Small telomeres foretell a shortened healthspan.

Learning About Telomeres:

So what is a telomere? This is the term for the noncoding DNA that appears at the end of each gene-bearing chromosome like the plastic tip at the end of a shoelace. And, like that shoelace tip, the telomere protects the chromosome and its genes as it does its work. Telomeres are tiny to start with, and they get shorter with each cell division. Telomeres have an important impact on health, but conversely, lifestyle makes a big difference for telomeres. Some of the ways we live shorten them more quickly, while others can actually help them grow longer.

What Is the Telomere Effect?

How do telomeres respond to stress? (They don’t like it.) Inflammation can make them shrink, as well. Exercise helps them grow longer even as it strengthens your muscles. Find out how mindfulness, meditation and a Mediterranean diet can affect your telomeres and your healthspan.

This Week’s Guests:

Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 alongside two colleagues for discovering telomerase. They also investigated telomeres’ role in the aging process. She is currently president of the Salk Institute. Blackburn was elected president of the American Association for Cancer Research and is a recipient of the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, among many other awards. In 2007, she was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people.

Elissa Epel, PhD, is a leading health psychologist who studies stress, aging, and obesity. She is the director of the Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Epel is associate director of the Center for Health and Community. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and serves on scientific advisory committees for the National Institutes of Health, and the Mind and Life Institute. She has received awards from Stanford University, the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and the American Psychological Association.

Drs. Blackburn and Epel are co-authors of The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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    About the Author
    Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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    Hi….I am thankful that you provide this for us to listen to. I found both women fascinating and plan to play this show several times to comprehend as much as I can. Thank you!

    I prefer to read than to listen, I find I understand and can go back and reread something until I get it, I can read it while waiting for appointments with out bothering others,. I enjoy reading and do not enjoy it being able to understand what someone is trying to say.

    I heard about Telemeres length and anti-aging 10 yrs ago from Dr. Smith

    Great show. I have a been very affected by stress including 11 years ago the mass/school shooting at Virginia Tech where my offspring was a student at the time and lost 2 friends as well as had one injured in the gun violence. (She herself was arriving on campus 2 buildings away and went immediately into “lock down”). I am a clinical mental health professional and for the first time was teaching it here in NC but learned of this travesty in action from my child and husband at lunchtime that day and stopped teaching (have never felt the resilience to return to teaching fellow professionals). I traveled to Blacksburg, VA that evening and spent the week being a parent on site with my offspring and friends who simply wouldn’t leave town, staying to support each other as all of these children and adults weathered the shooting of 50 (32 killed and 17 wounded) students and faculty. I worried about my kid for many months and 11 mths later awoke unable to walk. I had suffered a Transverse Myelitis which 7 years later was identified as a first episode of MS. I have no doubt it was emotional stress related. I am still a mental health clinician AND feel dedicated to an hour of aerobic exercise per day/5 days a week. (I have to ride a recumbent bike due to balance deficits) and strength train my arms, legs & do balance and stretching as a sustenance for my own sense of self (attempting to lengthen my telomeres perhaps?) I pray ways of strengthening my wounded resilience.

    I have read about telomeres and find the research fascinating. Thank you for having a show on the topic.

    Would you please provide credible sources for telomere testing. A company called Teloyears is advertising telomere testing. How do we know which companies are reputable?


    Thank you, a wonderful interview with these brilliant women. Well done.

    Just one general comment: I never listen to podcasts. It would be so useful if you could summarize the information as an article. Thank you.

    Transcripts would be best. At least 2 people have expressed a desire to read rather than listen, and transcripts are the answer.

    Just one general comment: I never listen to podcasts. It would be so useful if you could summarize the information as an article. Thank you.

    I never listen to podcasts either, they are too boring and time-consuming, but enjoy all the info I get on here and read what I am interested in.

    I´ll summarize it to you: If you care about the info provided for you, listen to the podcast.

    You’re welcome. Good day.

    Blackburn is difficult to understand. Hard to hear.

    Can’t understand Epel – horrible mumbling.

    The Telomere Effect program was fascinating. It almost needed another hour to dive into more examples and research supporting what the doctors shared. It was difficult to summarize all that the doctors did in their research and other’s supporting research in one hour because it was a little complex. There was a lot behind what was said. Fascinating.

    What about fasting?

    * Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^