What Are Telomere DNA Tests And How Reliable Are They?
Science is making strides in the area of DNA testing so much so that you can find out your ancestry and cellular age with great convenience.
With your blood sample, a laboratory can analyze the ends of your chromosomes called telomeres to determine everything from your age to health risks.
If you’re captivated by telomere tests, the following article on the functionality and reliability of telomere analysis will certainly be intriguing.
Everything you need to know about the benefits of telomere testing along with interpreting the recommendations from telomere testing companies are explained in greater detail below.
What Can Telomere Tests Tell Us?
Telomeres are repetitive nucleotide sequences known for protecting the ends of chromosomes. They prevent the leak of genetic material by capping or sealing the ends of every one of the 46 chromosomes in the human body.
Their main function is to assist during replication at the time of cell division.
Every time a cell divides, telomeres protect the chromosome from fusion. As a result, telomere length shortens progressively with every division.
It may enter cellular old age called senescence, fuse with other chromosomes, or destroy itself once shortening is impossible.
A telomere test checks the length of telomeres in a procured blood sample.
It calculates the percentile rate of average telomere length by comparing it to the lengths of healthy telomeres in people of the same age-group as the person analyzed.
Here are the four things telomere tests can reveal about the person who took it
Your Cellular Age
According to stats, the telomere length shortens from 11 kilobases around birth to 4 kilobases around death. Hence, identifying telomere length produces the cellular age of a person.
Telomere tests can record nutritional impacts such as oxidative stress to determine if a diet is working for you. It can also tell you which diet is improving your genetic integrity.
Signs of good and bad health can be determined by comparing the telomere lengths of the person sampled with healthy counterparts.
When telomeres become too short, they lead to fusion with other chromosomes or senescence. This is akin to organ damage and aging-related diseases and telomere analysis can determine your risks.
Are Telomere Tests Scientifically Proven?
The first telomere analysis for the public was launched by Telomere Diagnostics.
It was co-founded by Elizabeth Blackburn, the doctor who won the Nobel Prize for her work on telomeres. However, doubts about the clinical utility of telomeres led two out of its three co-founders to leave the company.
Telomere tests are also not reliable enough to determine health risks.
They are found to vary too much within a population as well as by environmental factors. In addition, there are high chances of Type II errors such as when an unhealthy customer receives healthy test results.
Additionally, there are quite a few other reasons why telomere analysis tests are not ready for commercial use yet.
What Is The Evidence That Telomere Shortening Is Related To Aging?
According to a study led by NMV Gomes on telomeres in mammals, the length of repetitive nucleotide sequences does not add to lifespan. Additionally, research published by SE Harris specifies that they did not find conclusive evidence that telomere physical aging is associated with cognitive and somatic abilities.
Do Long Telomeres Increase The Risk Of Cancer?
It is true that short telomere syndrome shows up as aging accelerates.
Moreover, cancer cells lead to short telomeres upon rapid cell division. However, cancerous cells can also switch on the enzyme telomerase, which further leads to lengthening of telomeres. Hence, it is easy to get a false positive with telomere analysis.
What Do NASA Scientists Have To Say About Telomeres?
NASA’s Twin Study observed DNA of identical twins, where one went through the stress of space travel and the other did not.
Shocking to popular belief, the telomere length of the twin who completed space travel grew longer than shrinking. This contests the theory that negative stress shortens telomeres.
Why Not To Trust Telomere Supplements Just Yet?
Telomere tests have given way to several fraudulent supplements, many of which advocate treatments that lengthen telomeres.
One of the main reasons cited by Dr. Blackburn for leaving Telomere Diagnostics was a prospective deal with a supplement that the doctor believed to trigger cancer in users.