Centenarian reveals SURPRISE drink that helps her live longer

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Shortened chromosomes are unfavourable because they thwart the cell’s ability to divide, which eventually causes it to become inactive. This, in turn, can lead to an accumulation of damage that the cell can no longer repair. By increasing oxidative stress in the body, alcohol may shorten telomeres when overconsumed, setting the stage for cancer, dementia and early death. 

New research, published in the journal of Molecular Psychiatry, has shown that drinking more than 17 units of alcohol per week shortens the telomeres of the chromosome.

Telomeres are the end-caps on chromosomes that preserve genetic integrity.

Anya Topiwala at the University of Oxford told the New Scientist: “Telomere length decreases as we age in normal ageing, but the concern is that shorter telomeres have been linked with lots of diseases of later life like cancer, Alzheimer’s, disease and heart disease.”

A study of 243,354 participants, aged 40 to 69, was conducted by analysing blood samples to better understand the effects of alcohol on telomere length.

Blood samples were compared with the participants’ self-reported weekly alcohol consumption.

According to the results, it transpired that participants who consumed higher volumes of alcohol were more likely to have shorter telomeres.

Current advice on the NHS website reads: “It’s recommended to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across three days or more.

“That’s around six medium glasses of wine or six pints of four pints of beer.

“There is no completely safe level of drinking, but sticking within these guidelines lowers your risk of harming your health.”

The risks related to shorter telomere length have been previously investigated.

In 2004, researchers at John Hopkins Medicine found evidence that having abnormally short telomeres appeared to play a role in the development of “many types of cancer”.

The findings specifically suggest that telomere dysfunction could play a key role in the development of epithelial cancer.

These types of cancer emerge from the tissues that line the organs and are medically referred to as carcinomas.

They make up about 85 percent of cancer in the UK, and can be broken down into three types:

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma.

An early report published in the journal of Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care listed several cancers linked with shorter telomere length.

The report stated: “Individuals with shorter telomeres seem to have a greater risk for development of lung, bladder, renal cell, gastrointestinal and head and neck cancers.”

Similar findings have been found for the risk of dementia.

The latest research found that drinking seven alcohol units per week was enough to increase the amount of iron in the basal ganglia.

This part of the brain is in charge of regulating functions such as motor movements, cognition, emotion, and eye movement.

The findings showed that an accumulation of iron in these areas was linked to decreased cognition.

Topawala noted: “Potential implications are that this adds to the increasing evidence base that even small amounts of alcohol may damage the brain.

“Additionally, it offers insight into the way alcohol damages the brain – and we hope offers future avenues for suites to test whether intervening to lower iron might help avoid damage.”

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