Scientists have uncovered new information on telomeres that could help combat the effects of inflammation and aging. Researchers from the University of Pittsburg recently discovered how oxidative stress plays a critical in the link between telomeres and cancer. I don’t want to blind you with science (telomeres are a complex area), but every breakthrough into telomeres will ultimately equal a breakthrough in understanding how we age and how we can keep cells — including our skin cells — healthy. That’s why I pounced on this latest study.
Telomeres are composed of repeated sequences of DNA. The results from this study suggest that the mechanism by which oxidative stress accelerates telomere shortening is by damaging the DNA precursor molecules, not the telomere itself. This will have a big impact on appreciating how to manage oxidative stress to prevent aging and diseases such as cancer. But to understand this, now would be a good time for a quick reprise of what telomeres do.
If DNA is broken there are two options after the cell cycle is stopped: repair or death. If cells divided without telomeres, they would lose the end of their chromosomes and the necessary information it contains. They are often described as being like the tips on the ends of shoelaces that stop them unraveling. Telomeres shorten every time a cell divides. When they become very short, they trigger cell crisis and cell death. The first big breakthrough came in 2009 when scientists came up with Nobel Prize-winning research that linked this shortening of the telomeres with aging.
All this means that you really want to be thinking about how to stabilize your telomeres (aka stop them getting shorter) or even lengthen them. Happily, advances in skin care can help you out. There are three approaches to consider: special ingredients that target telomeres, ingredients that prevent oxidative damage (known, of course, as antioxidants) and plant stem cells.
Target your telomeres
One very interesting ingredient is called astragalus, and although it is rare, we do have a couple of Truth In Aging finds with it. But first, what is it and how does it work? In 2008, a UCLA AIDS Institute study found that a chemical they called TAT2 from the astragalus root, which is frequently used in Chinese herbal therapy, can prevent or slow the progressive shortening of telomeres. It can be found in Prana Reishi Mushroom Shield ($42 in the shop) and ExPürtise Effective Anti-Aging Face Serum ($120 in the shop).
Another ingredient to look for is treprenone, also marketed under the name of Renovage. Its promise is to stabilize telomeres, so — at the very least — they won't shorten. Maintaining telomere length extends the Hayflick Limit (the rate at which cells turn over before conking out completely) by one third. You’ll find treprenone (Renovage) in Your Best Face Boost ($65 in the shop), Medik8 Red Alert ($60 in the shop), Sublime Beauty Ageless Serum ($49).
Amp up with antioxidants
The research is clear: Preventing oxidative damage is the job of an antioxidant. Free radicals are charged chemical particles of oxygen that enter into destructive chemical bonds with organic substances such as proteins, as explained by Gerald Imber, MD. Antioxidants limit the production of free radicals and therefore help prevent oxidative stress. There are many sources in plants, and vitamins are also antioxidants.
Your Best Face Antioxidant Concentrate ($65 in the shop) is chock full of antioxidants, including ferulic acid, resveratrol and glutathione. Ao Skincare Restore ($119.95 in the store) includes spin trap, which has been shown to intercept free radicals before any damage is done. Another good source is Dr. Dennis Gross Triple C Firming Oil ($62 in the shop) with vitamin C.
Look for plant stem cells
Plant stem cells never age. British scientists found that plant stem cells were much more sensitive to DNA damage than other cells. Once they sense damage, they trigger death of these cells before it spreads and causes more. In addition, they have the ability to stimulate cell renewal and replace specific cells in need of repair.
Good sources for plant stem cells are Rejuvel 3D Microgravity Cell Renewal Cream ($149 in the shop), ClarityRx An Apple a Day Phyto Stem Cell Skin Preservation Serum ($103.50 in the shop) and Sciote Omni Phtyo-Cell Serum ($130 in the shop).