Wellness treatments could slow cellular ageing

Spa wellness treatments that reduce stress and improve nutrition and exercise habits could also slow cellular ageing, according to a new study.

Scientists at University of California said theirs is the first controlled trial to show that such lifestyle changes could lengthen telomeres, the parts of chromosomes that affect ageing.
They studied data on 35 patients suffering a non-aggressive form of prostate cancer, who were regularly assessed by doctors rather than undergoing conventional treatment.

Ten of the men adopted a "lifestyle change intervention" which included eating a plant-based diet of whole foods, moderate exercise, stress management and regular group support classes, while the other 25 made no change to their lifestyle.

The group that made the changes experienced a “significant” increase in telomere length of approximately 10%. In fact, those who made the biggest changes to their behaviour saw the most dramatic improvements in telomere length.

Meanwhile, the men in the control group had measurably shorter telomeres; on average 3% shorter when the five-year study ended.

Lead researcher Dean Ornish said: “Our genes, and our telomeres, are not necessarily our fate…these findings indicate that telomeres may lengthen to the degree that people change how they live. Research indicates that longer telomeres are associated with fewer illnesses and longer life.”

Telomeres are combinations of DNA and protein that protect the ends of chromosomes and help them remain stable. As they become shorter, and as their structural integrity weakens, the cells age and die quicker.

The researchers said the findings are likely to be relevant to the general population but concluded that larger studies were needed.

Image: Kamalaya Wellness Retreat