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Omega-3s

Omega-3s linked to longevity

Thursday, March 25, 2010 by: E. Huff, staff writer
Tags: omega-3s, longevity, health news


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(NaturalNews) Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, have found that omega-3 fatty acids have another beneficial effect besides maintaining a healthy heart. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study found that patients with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood experienced a slowing of the shortening of their telomeres, indicating that the fatty acids help to slow the aging process.

The study of telomeres and their role in the aging process has been a popular subject in recent years. Scientists have found that telomeres, which act as protective end caps on cells, gradually shorten over time as cells divide and repair themselves, causing a person to age. Researchers, however, have been studying various compounds, including omega-3s, that appear to slow the shortening process and even reverse it.

Ramin Farzaneh-Far, a clinical cardiologist and lead author of the study, evaluated 608 patients who had prior heart problems and coronary-artery blockage. Over a five-year period, those with the highest levels of omega-3s in their blood experienced far less telomere shortening than those with the lowest levels.

The researchers focused primarily on omega-3s derived from fish sources rather than from vegetable sources like flaxseed and walnuts. The study also did not address the specific sources of omega-3s, whether they be directly from fish or vegetables or from omega-3 supplements.

John LaPuma, a physician and nutrition expert from Santa Barbara, California, believes that omega-3s derived directly from eating fish is the best source. He bases this assumption on the brevity of research that has been conducted directly on fish sources of omega-3s but it seems reasonable to assume that omega-3s derived from other sources provide similar benefits as did the ones used in the study.

Study researchers said they are not entirely sure how telomeres work in the aging process but they recognize that they play a key role in the process. Others have compared telomeres to the plastic end caps on shoelaces that keep them from unraveling, indicating that they maintain the integrity of cells.

Dr. Farzaneh-Far also explained that short telomeres often predict the onset of certain diseases including cardiovascular illness and heart problems. Whether or not telomeres are merely indicators of these diseases or the cause of them is still up for debate. Further research into the process is needed in order to get a more accurate understanding of the way telomeres work in cellular aging.

Sources for this story include:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240527...

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