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People with Depression May Age Faster

Discussion in 'Science & Technology' started by micropage7, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. micropage7


    Mar 26, 2010
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    People suffering from depression may be aging
    faster than other people, according to a new
    study from the Netherlands.
    In the study of about 1,900 people who had major
    depressive disorders at some point during their
    lives, along with 500 people who had not had
    depression, researchers measured the length of
    cell structures called telomeres, which are "caps"
    at the end of chromosomes that protect the DNA
    during cell division. Normally, telomeres shorten
    slightly each time cells divide, and their length is
    thought to be an index of a cell's aging .
    The researchers found telomeres were shorter in
    people who had experienced depression compared
    with people in the control group. This suggests
    cellular aging in people with depression is
    accelerated by several years, the researchers
    The severity of a person's depression, as well as
    a longer duration of symptoms were linked with
    shorter telomere length, and the results held after
    controlling for weight, smoking, drinking and
    several other factors that may contribute to
    aging, according to the study published today
    (Nov. 12) in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
    "Psychological distress, as experienced by
    depressed persons, has a large, detrimental
    impact on the 'wear and tear' of a person's body,
    resulting in accelerated biological aging," said
    study author Josine Verhoeven, a researcher at
    the Free University in Amsterdam.
    "The findings might help explain the variety of
    health complaints often experienced by people
    with major depression," Verhoeven said. [8 Tips
    for Healthy Aging ]
    Studies have shown that people with depression
    are at increased risk for diseases that tend to
    come with aging — for example, dementia, cancer
    and type 2 diabetes — even when health and
    lifestyle factors are taken into account. This has
    raised the question whether depression
    accelerates aging.
    The length of telomeres is measured in terms of
    their number of DNA building blocks, called base
    pairs (bp). In the study, the telomeres in healthy
    people were about 5,540 bp long on average,
    whereas people with depression had telomeres
    about 5,460 bp long.
    The study participants ranged in age from 18 to
    65. In line with previous studies, the researchers
    found that with each year of age, telomeres
    shortened by 14 bp, on average.
    The researchers showed an association, but not a
    cause-and-effect relationship between depression
    and shorter telomeres. It is possible that some
    other factor, such as a genetic vulnerability,
    underlies both, the researchers said.
    It is also possible that telomere shortening is a
    consequence of impairment in the body's stress
    "An important question remains whether this
    aging process can be reversed," the researchers
    said in their study. An enzyme called telomerase
    elongates telomeres by adding nucleotides to the
    end of chromosomes, and its possible that
    lifestyle changes could increase the activity of
    telomerase , thereby lengthening telomeres,
    Verhoeven said.
    "A healthy lifestyle, such as enough physical
    exercise, not smoking and a healthy diet, might be
    of even greater importance in depressed
    individuals than it is in the non-depressed," she

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