Fish Oils May Slow Genetic Aging
Now there is more good news for all of you that are taking your Fish oil, and more good reason to if you are not. Happily, a recent study, supported by grants from the American Heart Association and the Bernard and Barbro Foundation, shows that omega-3 fatty acids may slow biological aging.
Researcher Ramin Farzaneh-Far, MD, of the University of California San Francisco, and his colleagues followed 608 patients with known coronary artery disease for a period of five years. Blood tests were taken to identify their telomere lengths at the beginning and end of the study. Research has shown that the length of telomeres may be a marker of biological age; theoretically, the longer one’s telomeres, the younger one is, biologically speaking. Therefore, measuring telomere length at both the beginning and end of the study enabled the researchers to understand how rapidly their telomeres were shortening, i.e., how quickly (or slowly) each patient was biologically aging. “The results of our study underscore the recommendations of the American Heart Association, that patients with known coronary artery disease should be getting at least one gram a day of omega-3 fish oil,” Farzaneh-Far said.
Biological age differs from actual age, as it takes into account both genetics and environmental stressors that damage cells. For example, one of two 45-year-old men may have a younger biological age based on genetic factors, even though both have similar habits. It pays to have “good genes,” and not just for beauty but for longevity, as well. However, this study suggests that upping your intake of omega-3 may help you lower your biological age.
So how do omega – 3s stop telomeres from getting smaller and, therefore, prolong life?
Oxidative stress is a major driver of telomere shortening and aging. Oxidative damage causes stress on normal body functions, leading to a gradual loss of vital functions later in life. This process is commonly believed to occur as a result of the aging process. The researchers agreed that the study was limited, at it made no provision for proof of cause and effect. In other words, there was no placebo used, and there was no consideration of other lifestyle issues—perhaps those with the highest levels of omega-3’s also did other things that kept their telomeres longer. This was a complaint by some physicians.
Further, since the research focused on telomere length in leukocytes, the findings might not be the same for heart cells. I certainly very much agree that omega-3 fatty acids have a positive effect on the fats that circulate through the body, i.e., triglyceride levels. High triglyceride levels are a risk factor for heart disease. They also have a potent positive impact on lipids that circulate in the bloodstream and damage the heart. The effects of omega-3 fatty acids on lipids are still the best advertisement for their use to prevent heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides and non-HDL cholesterol, and stabilize cell membranes — all of which may reduce risk for coronary artery disease and sudden cardiac death.
So remember to take your fish oil daily!