Mediterranean Diet May Delay Telomere Shortening, Increase Longevity

Immaculata De Vivo PhD Associate Professor Harvard Medical School Director, Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center High Throughput Genotyping Core Facility. Channing Division of Network Medicine Boston, MA 02115MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Immaculata De Vivo PhD

Associate Professor Harvard Medical School
Director, Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center High Throughput Genotyping Core
Facility. Channing Division of Network Medicine
Boston, MA 02115

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. De Vivo: Our study found that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with longer telomeres. Following a diet closer to the Mediterranean diet, can prevent accelerated telomere shortening. Our unique contribution to the literature is that we provide a potential molecular mechanism, preventing telomere shortening. Telomeres are bits of DNA that protect your chromosomes.

MedicalResearch: Is telomere shortening reversible?

Dr. De Vivo: Telomere shortening is a biological process, the shorten with age.

However, lifestyle choices can help to prevent accelerated shortening.

Fruits, vegetables, olive oil and nuts – key components of the Mediterranean diet have well known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that could balance out the “bad effects” of smoking and obesity.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. De Vivo: The health benefits of greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet,  reduction of overall mortality, increased longevity and reduced incidence of chronic diseases, especially major cardiovascular diseases have been consistently demonstrated. Our results further support the health benefits of adherence to the Mediterranean diet and provide some insight into the underlying physiologic mechanism behind this association.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. De Vivo: A future research question should be aimed at determining which components of the Mediterranean diet are driving this association.  This would allow more insight into the biological mechanism as well as provide a basis for increased public education for informed lifestyle choices. Following up in males would also be of interest.

Citation:

Crous-Bou Marta, Fung Teresa T, Prescott Jennifer, Julin Bettina, Du Mengmeng, Sun Qi et al. Mediterranean diet and telomere length in Nurses’ Health Study: population based cohort study BMJ 2014; 349:g6674

 

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