Professor Dean Ornish and colleagues at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and the University of California in San Francisco are the first to present proof that healthy lifestyle changes produce chromosome changes that lengthen human life according to a report of the research in the Sept. 16, 2013, edition of the journal The Lancet Oncology.
The research is the first to demonstrate telomere lengthening as the result of changes in behavior. Telomeres are the ends of chromosomes that have been implicated in aging at a cellular level. Shortening of telomeres has been implicated in cancer, stroke, vascular dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
The small study compared the effect of changes in diet, exercise, and stress reduction on the length of the telomeres of 35 men that had prostate cancer. The five year study separated the men into two groups. One group made lifestyle changes and the other did not.
The group of men that made lifestyle changes demonstrated increased telomere length that averaged ten percent. The men that made no lifestyle changes demonstrated an average of three percent telomere shortening.
The lifestyle changes were: a plant-based diet (high in fruits, vegetables and unrefined grains, and low in fat and refined carbohydrates); moderate exercise (walking 30 minutes a day, six days a week); stress reduction (gentle yoga-based stretching, breathing, and meditation).
This is the first demonstration that age and life span at the cellular level can be manipulated by behavior.