Weight gain speeds aging

  Extra pounds can literally age your DNA. That’s the latest from the Bogalusa Heart Study-an ongoing 32 year research project at the Tulane School of Public Health. Scientists analyzed blood samples from 49 adults in 1988 and again in 2001, recording height, weight, and blood sugar, as well as the length of their white blood cell telomeres, strands of DNA on the tip of each chromosome that typically shorten with age. They found that as people gained weight and became more insulin resistant (a common side effect of being overweight), their telomeres shrank more than those of people who didn’t add pounds and develop greater insulin resistance, a clear sign that the aging process was accelerating in the overweight volunteers. Researchers believe that the stress caused by weight and insulin resistance generates inflammation and free radicals that damage cells. “Losing weight can slow telomere erosion,” says study coauthor Abraham Aviv, MD, Preliminary research shows that exercise and a healthy lifestyle followed with a balanced and nutritional diet can help keep your DNA younger, too.  Selene Yeager-