Some very interesting research about coffee’s contribution and health benefits to telomere lengths coming out of the United States…
First of all, what are telomeres and why do they matter?
A telomere is a region of repetitive DNA at the end of a chromosome, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration.
The telomere shortening mechanism normally limits cells to a fixed number of divisions, and animal studies suggest that this is responsible for aging on the cellular level and sets a limit on lifespans.
Telomeres protect a cell's chromosomes from fusing with each other or rearranging—abnormalities which can lead to cancer—and so cells are normally destroyed when their telomeres are consumed. Most cancers are the result of "immortal" cells which have ways of evading this programmed destruction.
In short, the longer the relative length of the telomeres in your DNA, it indicates the longer you may still have to live.
According to Larry Tucker, of Brigham Young University in the US, who published this study recently in Nutrition & Metabolism, coffee can help protect telomere length, but caffeine is not the answer and can be detrimental to telomere length. For more information on the detailed study, please visit:
The Study’s findings suggest that the more caffeine the participants consumed, the shorter their telomeres Tucker discovered after filtering out the effect of age and other factors.
Yet, coffee itself had an opposite effect on telomere length. The more coffee the participants drank, the longer their telomeres were.
Tucker's study suggests that, for coffee drinkers, caffeine from sources other than coffee such as energy drinks, supplements and cola - is just as unhealthy as it is for non-coffee drinkers.
This means that the telomeres in coffee drinkers were shorter the more caffeine they consumed from other non-coffee sources.
It suggests that coffee itself has beneficial properties to telomere length, but it is more down to coffee’s other compounds (not the caffeine!).
The Study notes:
"Caffeine intake is pervasive throughout much of the world," writes Tucker. "It has been linked to a number of beneficial and detrimental health consequences. Unfortunately, much of the epidemiologic research on the effects of caffeine has focused on coffee intake, not caffeine."
"The present study, which investigated the relationships between caffeine and coffee intakes and telomere length, shows that as caffeine intake increases, telomeres tend to be shorter in U.S. adults. On the other hand, this investigation indicates that as coffee intake increases, telomeres tend to be longer."
"Because telomere length is a biomarker of the senescence of cells, the present findings suggest that cell aging may be accelerated in U.S. adults as caffeine intake increases, but may be decelerated as coffee consumption increases. Given the magnitude and importance of these relationships, additional research is warranted.”
This Study is certainly not the final word on coffee’s health benefits for telomere length, but perhaps a call to action for more research on this fascinating and beneficial avenue for improvement of heath.