RSSLifestyle changes shown to increase telomere length for the first time

Posted on Mon, 16 Sep 13

Lifestyle changes shown to increase telomere length for the first time

Dr Dean Ornish and colleagues have published a study in the Lancet showing for the first time that comprehensive lifestyle changes can increase the length of telomeres. Longer telomeres protect against age related disease and are linked to longevity.

Dr. Ornish, a pioneer of lifestyle medicine, and colleagues including Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who received a Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering telomerase and telomeres, were involved in the investigation, which is a 5-year follow up of men with prostate cancer who underwent comprehensive lifestyle changes.

In the Lancet Oncology 2008, the same group published a ground breaking report showing that lifestyle changes were able to increase the activity the enzyme linked to telomere repair, telomerase, within just 3 months.

Telomeres sit at the ends of your chromosomes where they prevent the degradation of genes. Shorter telomeres have been associated with increased risk of age related diseases such as cancer.

The new study demonstrated that lifestyle changes were significantly associated with an increase in telomere length by an average of 10%, while telomere length decreased by an average of 3% in the control group.

The lifestyle changes included a whole-food plant-based diet, regular exercise, stress management techniques such as meditation and yoga, and social support.

Commenting on the study results Dr. Ornish stated “this is the first study to show that anything may begin to reverse aging on a cellular level.”


1. Ornish D, et al. Effect of comprehensive lifestyle changes on telomerase activity and telomere length in men with biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer: 5-year follow-up of a descriptive pilot study. The Lancet Oncology, Early Online Publication, 17 September 2013

2. Press release. Ornish D. Our Genes Are Not Our Fate - Telomere Study. Accessed at:

Tags: Telomere, Dean Ornish, Lifestyle Change, Longevity

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