The reason? Alcohol (just as with smoking, obesity, chronic psychological stress, and others we have identified yet) causes oxidative stress and inflammation, damaging and shortening these important pieces of your chromosome.
Telomeres are the pieces of DNA at the ends of your chromosomes, and shortened telomeres means aged cells, chromosome instability, risk of cancer, heart disease, dementia, and more.
One reason I’m fascinated by telomeres is because we actually have some control over them! Their length is an indicator of our overall health and wellbeing - the amount of stress and inflammation our cells have battled over time.
If you haven’t seen this yet, check out this study by Dean Ornish on how lifestyle changes of diet, exercise, and stress reduction increase telomerase (the enzyme that maintains the length of telomeres).
Based on what we know so far, here are 6 things you can do to keep your telomeres healthy:
I would also add get enough sleep and replete Vitamin D (so many of us in northern latitudes are deficient)… but these last two are just my hypotheses, I haven’t seen any studies looking at those questions.