As technology progressed, so did public health. As public health progressed, so did life expectancy. Global life expectancy has increased by a significant period in the past century. However, there is one similarity between today’s life expectancy and that of the 1900s. Women outlive men. Women’s life expectancy has always been higher than men’s. Scientists did not know why this happened, but now they do.
Higher life expectancy in women has been linked to longer telomeres.
WHAT ARE TELOMERES?
Telomeres are DNA components found at the end of chromosomes to prevent them from damage. They are to chromosomes what aglets are to shoelaces. Longer telomeres prevent DNA strands from being damaged and shortened. Shorter DNA decreases the longevity of life.
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Right from birth, women have longer telomeres than men. However, the reason for this difference is still unknown.
Although, some research suggests that oestrogen can help improve telomeric health.
HOW CAN OESTROGEN HELP?
Oestrogen is the primary female sex hormone.
Longer telomeres have also been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Oestrogen also helps in that regard. It lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body and helps protect against cardiovascular disease and other cholesterol-related ailments.
At a North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting in San Diego, Dr. Elissa Epel said, “Some experimental studies suggest estrogen exposure increases the activity of telomerase, the enzyme that can protect and elongate telomeres.” Dr Epel is a researcher and professor at the University of California, San Francisco, in the department of psychiatry.
Oestrogen acts as a barrier to damage and protects delicate DNA strands from deterioration.
However, oestrogen can’t always protect telomeres from damage.
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WHAT AFFECTS ONE’S TELOMERIC HEALTH?
Chronic or childhood psychological adversity, such as abuse, can cause telomeres to lose length. It can be caused by stress as well. Increase in age also reduces telomeric length by putting the body and DNA through additional stress.
Improvement in health helps to boost telomerase. It is the enzyme that can protect and elongate telomeres. According to Dr JoAnn V. Pinkerton, you need “to manage stress, exercise regularly, eat healthy, such as the Mediterranean diet, and get at least seven hours of sleep.” Dr Pinkerton is the executive director of NAMS.