Aging: Longer genes may be a main cause, play role in Alzheimer's

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |
A scientist holds a smartphone with gloved hands showing pictures of genes and a genetics analysisShare on Pinterest
New research links longer genes to body aging. PER Images/Stocksy
  • Although aging is a natural part of life, everyone wants to slow this process down.
  • Recent studies show that certain lifestyle actions can help decelerate aging’s course.
  • Researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine say that longer genes in the body might be a main cause of the body’s aging.
  • Scientists believe long genes may also play a role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Everyone knows that aging is a natural part of life. However, that has not stopped humans wanting to know how to slow down the aging process.

Studies surrounding the Blue Zones where people consistently live over 100 years of age have brought some insights into how certain lifestyle actions can lead to healthy aging and a longer life.

Recent studies have examined other ways that may slow the aging process, including cutting calories, following a fasting-mimicking diet, and getting more Health">physical activity.

“If we understand more about aging, it could help us to identify novel ways to monitor and improve health,” Thomas Stoeger, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in pulmonary and critical care at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, a member of the Potocsnak Longevity Institute, and co-corresponding author of a new report recently published in the journal Trends in Genetics, told Medical News Today.

“While multiple individual causes of aging are known, there is an outstanding need to understand why they all change the body in similar ways with age. This is the root of the problem,” Stoeger said.

In this report, Stoeger and his team from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine report that long genes in the body — which are more susceptible to damage — might be a main cause of the body’s aging.

Additionally, researchers think that long genes may also play a role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

After reviewing this report, David Merrill,MD,PhD, a geriatric psychiatrist and director of the Pacific Neuroscience Institute’s Pacific Brain Health Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, told MNT that this study gives doctors a new way to discuss the aging process with patients.

“As we age, the longer, more complex genes have more spots on them that can become damaged. When they are damaged, the genes can no longer be transcribed into the RNA that then gets translated into the proteins that maintain normal cellular function. The damage comes from the wear and tear of living through processes like oxidative stress.”
— David Merrill, MD

“We can reduce oxidative stress on our cells and their genes by eating a healthy diet full of fresh whole foods like fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants. We can also participate in activities that promote DNA repair like exercise, intermittent fasting, or modest caloric restriction. Reducing stress and eating healthy fats like omega-3 also promotes DNA repair. Reducing or eliminating behaviors like smoking, drinking alcohol, or eating highly processed foods with added sugars also reduces the stress on our DNA,” Merrill said.

MNT also spoke with Dr. Rocco DiPaola, a neurologist and movement disorder specialist at Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in New Jersey, about this research.

DiPaola commented that this report helps explain the pathways that lead to aging and possibly neurodegenerative disorders.

“This becomes more important as our population ages and the resulting burden to patients, families, and society in general related to neurodegenerative disorders increases,” he continued. “Further research (should) determine if, in fact, GLTD is the main or one of multiple mechanisms of aging, and is it preventable.”

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