DNA Testing – The Desire for Eternal Youth
Everyone wants to unlock the secret to eternal youth by using anti-ageing creams or eating blueberries – does DNA testing hold the answer? Age creeps up on you and before you realise it the years have gone by and sadly the mirror is not your friend anymore. We live in a youth obsessed society. Beauty products, everyday toiletries and our eating habits can make a difference to how we look. But as DNA testing shows, some people may just have better genes when it comes to combating the ageing process.
DNA Testing and the Ageing Process
It’s a myth to think that we begin to age begins after the age of 40 – in fact the process begins whilst we are still in the womb. Ageing happens to us all and our genetic make up means that there can be no escape from it. However there are genes that can influence the ageing process and how the body can maintain cells. DNA testing is able to reveal rare genetic conditions. Werner’s syndrome for example does age a person faster than is normal. DNA testing does reveal that the gene that causes this is central to copying and repairing the cell’s DNA.
Werner’s Syndrome and Genetics
DNA testing shows that people with Werner’s syndrome have faults within their DNA that speeds up the ageing process. However Werner’s syndrome is most extremely rare. It is thought that there were only around 1,300 cases reported worldwide in the past 90 years and a thousand of those originated in Japan. Symptoms of this disease start at puberty when the normal growth spurt does not happen. Greying hair, loss of hair, changes in skin tone and osteoporosis are also symptoms. DNA testing can reveal if you carry the faulty gene. There is no treatment for the syndrome but because it is a genetic condition children of affected parents have a 1 in 4 risk of having the disease themselves. DNA testing and pre-natal screening could be available for the parents who are at risk.
DNA Testing and Lifestyle Factors
Oxygen is essential to life, but it can also help us to age as it produces free radicals. Many believe that by eating anti-oxidant rich foods this in itself can help to stave off the ageing process. It’s the day by day build up of damage from every day living which results in ageing. Lifestyles can have a huge impact on how quickly that damage can happens. DNA testing may tell us that our genes are okay, but if we eat foods that are heavy in saturated fats, smoke or consume toxins, the ageing process does speeds up. It’s important to look after the body’s defences by eating antioxidant rich foods and taking exercise to keep us fit.
DNA testing can inform us about the science of ageing, but by taking control of our own lifestyles we can impact on whether we grow old gracefully or we become old before our time.
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