Link between telomeres and osteo arthritis

Lilymary Member Posts: 1,740
edited 15. Sep 2022, 17:42 in Living with arthritis

I recently came across an article by mistake which made me sit up, and coincidentally I have since read several news reports on the same issue, ie "telomeres". I'm not sure if it's ok to post the link, so haven't unless someone tells me otherwise. It was, however, a scholarly piece of research published in 2014 through the US National Library of Medicine. It took some wading through, being in advanced medic-speak, but some of you may find the general gist interesting.

I had to look it up, but telomeres are "the protective end caps of chromosomes and play a very important role in the aging process. As cells divide, telomeres shorten and individuals age, so telomere length can be used as a biomarker of aging or related diseases in the body." Shortened telomeres "may contribute to the initiation and development of osteoarthritis, whose major cause is still unknown." The presence of very short telomeres may lead to the onset of other age-related diseases, including some cancers.

What causes them to shorten? Many factors are cited. Mainly it's a natural part of aging, but "Lifestyle factors such as smoking, lack of physical activity, obesity, stress, exposure to pollution, etc. can potentially increase the rate of telomere shortening, cancer risk, and pace of aging."

Can we do anything about this? (It's rather useless info for non-medics if not.) "Dietary restriction, appropriate diet (high fiber, plenty of antioxidants, lean/low protein, adding soy protein to diet), and regular exercise can potentially reduce the rate of telomere shortening, disease risk, and pace of aging." This helps explain why advice on this site (and elsewhere) about healthy living works for reducing the development of osteoarthritis.

As someone who has spent their entire adult life stressed out and shoving my body up mountains in my leisure time, thinking there wouldn't be a payback on my physical health, this has been a bit of a wake up call. I have gone from being generally healthy to suddenly needing a new hip and being diagnosed with breast cancer (now treated) in the space of 18 months. I realise both may have been caused by other factors, including genetics, and good old wear and tear, but it's certainly got me questioning my life choices. A more chilled lifestyle, with moderate exercise fueled by soya, broccoli and carrots, beckons. (And chocolate, there's always room for chocolate).


  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,710

    That's very interesting, @Lilymary . Especially as you give causes and easy stteps to take. Thank you.

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,410

    I agree with Mrs Wicket @Lilymary sorry I have taken so long to read this (friend in hospital seriously ill so being supportive) it's so interesting.

    I mostly do the eating bit....and the exercise bit (mostly walking) but I need to add in your chilled lifestyle.

    Leave it with me😉