The subject of testing your telomere length is not without controversy.
Many are concerned that perhaps the insurance company would get a hold of the information and determine your life expectancy.
While this may be true, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow and then the length of your telomeres really doesn't matter?
Telomeres are sections of DNA at the end of each chromosome that serve as a cap to the genetic material. Their purpose is critical to the life of the cell in that they serve as protective buffers that keep the ends of the chromosomes from becoming attached to each other or rearranging. If cells divided without telomeres, they would lose the necessary information at the end of each chromosome. In this way, telomeres prevent chromosomal fraying.
Every time a cell replicates, its telomere will become shorter, eventually causing cell death once the telomere attrition has reached a critical length. It is estimated that human telomeres lose about 100 base pairs from their telomeric DNA during each mitosis (cell division).
At that rate the telomeres would be completely gone after approximately 125 divisions. Shorter telomeres imply a shorter life span for a cell, essentially giving it a finite lifespan, depending on the number of cell divisions left with each telomere.
Your cells can maintain the length of their telomeres with an enzyme called telomerase, which adds genetic material at the end of the DNA strand. The additional genetic material lengthens the number of times that a cell can replicate and ultimately prolongs the life of the cell.
The repair and rebuilding of your telomeres is not something that is a quick fix. Before starting to take Telezyme, the new telomerase enzyme supplement, we wanted to get a base line check.
The first step was to contact SpectraCell Laboratories. They are the only laboratory in the United States that is currently providing a telomere test. We found a doctor that performs the test on a clinician locator at http://www.spectracell.com/find-a-clinician/.
Once you locate a doctor, then make an appointment with them. In our case the doctor was just a couple of blocks away. We went in and filled out the necessary paperwork and received our collection kit to take to a clinic to have our blood drawn. This step may be avoided if your clinician can perform the blood draw at their office.
Be aware that SpectraCell charges $290 for the test and the doctor's visit is in addition to that. Also this is not a test that is covered by any insurance plan. The results were returned in about 2 weeks and the doctor called us for a time to over the results.
We have established an account with SpectraCell and can now offer telomere testing for you. Click here for details...
Here is a sample of one of the reports.
The Telomere score is calculation of the telomere length derived from nucleated white blood cells obtained from the whole blood sample that was collected. The higher the Telomere Score, the “younger” the cells.
The result is then graphed relative to the average Telomere length of a sample population in the same age group. A Telomere Score that is above the black line is indicated by a green square indicating an above average score. A Telomere Score that is below the black line is indicated by a red square indicating a below average score. If the age was not provided, a horizontal red/green line will be shown which represents the the Telomere Score across all age groups.
You can see that the telomere length is a function of age. A 10 year old should expect a telomere length of approximatley 9.0 and an 75 year old has a telomere score of about 6.0.
The green square indicates that I got a good score. The square is positioned horizontally over my age because I provided it.
Now if the green square had been vertically centered over the 8.00 line, I could followed that back to the left to see that it would cross the Mean Telomere Score at about the 35 year old line.
However a red square would have not been so good. Let's say that a red square is centered over the 6.00 line. If you follow the 6.00 line to the right, it would intersect the Mean Telomere Score at about the 75 year old line.
Remember that there are only about 125 cell divisions during your life span. If we assume that the average life expectancy for people in the United States is 78 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy) and that cell division is a linear function of time (I'm not sure that is a correct assumption), then you would have a cell division roughly every 6-8 months.
This is why it is important to always have the telomerase enzyme in your system. You don't know when your next cell division is. Having an adequate amount of telomerase enzyme always present will allow your cells to replicate efficiently and preserve the length of your telomeres.
Now that we have a base line in hand, we can have our telomeres tested again in a year and see if any adjustments need to be made in our supplementation. For information on a product that fully supports your telomere health, click here.