Sunday, May 22, 2011

How old are your cells?

I took a couple of weeks off from this blog to get ready for a couple of presentations. The first one was "Explaining Health: Habits and Longevity," for UCSF Women's Health Today series, streamed live over the internet, and will be shown on in a few weeks. I had hoped to stay present, while I was presenting, even though I was pretty excited. It helped that there weren't many people in the live audience. The potential audience in the weeks and months to come makes me hopeful that some of my information will motivate folks to take better care of themselves.

The other presentation was at The UCSF Integrative Medicine Forum, put on by the students. My lecture was "The Art of Massage Therapy: Pain relief at your fingertips," highlighting the history of massage therapy, showing some self massage points, and instructing the students on neck and shoulder massage on each other. I showed them some proper body mechanics, and commiserated with the dentistry students on how difficult it is for dentists to have good ergonomics.

I went to a lecture by Elissa Epel on Telomeres-Biological aging, lifestyle and well-being. She is doing some fascinating research on telomeres which are the protective ends of the chromosomes (like the little plastic end of your shoelace). The telomeres shorten when the cell divides, and when they get too short the cell dies. Telomere length determines biological age and her findings show that people who have a high degree of perceived stress have shorter telomeres. The good news is that vigorous exercise, omega-3, anti-oxidants and stress management have been shown to increase the length of telomeres, or to keep them the same length. All of the ingredients of a healthy lifestyle, now being proved in the lab.