Fighting (and Losing) Against the Clock

It appears that a biological measurement of premature ageing may be linked to FM pain. I wonder if this explains why my body feels eighty instead of forty…

In a new research study, researchers examined the length of telomeres, which are specialized structures at the ends of chromosomes that deal with replication and stability of genetic material. A telomere is a repeating DNA sequence at the end of the body’s chromosomes. The easiest way to think about it is to imagine them as the aglets (plastic tips) on the ends of shoelaces that keep them from fraying.

*** The human body is an organism formed by adding many organ systems together. Those organ systems are made of individual organs. Each organ contains tissues designed for specific functions like absorption and secretion. Tissues are made of cells that have joined together to perform those special functions. Each cell is then made of smaller components called organelles, one of which is called the nucleus. The nucleus contains structures called chromosomes that are actually “packages” of all the genetic information (DNA) that is passed from parents to their children.***

Over time, as cells divide, telomeres shorten and as such are regarded as a marker of the aging process.

When comparing telomeres from women with FM to those of healthy women (sorry, men were ignored again), researchers discovered that the telomeres from the FM sufferers tended to be slightly shorter, but not to a significant degree. However, higher pain levels were associated with shorter telomere length. Further, those with higher pain and higher depression scores had the shortest telomeres, with the difference being approximately equal to six years of ageing – not quite the forty extra years I was looking for.

Additionally, shorter telomeres were linked to higher pain sensitivity and lower gray-matter volume in brain regions dealing with pain.

Researchers concluded that premature cellular ageing appears to be linked to chronic pain, which implies that chronic pain is a more serious condition than has typically been recognized – which hopefully means that more research will be conducted into chronic pain conditions like FM.

Unlike FM (oops, just a bit cynical!), there is a huge interest in slowing the aging process so a fair bit of research has gone into which nutrients help keep your telomeres long. (It is not known yet if this slows the ageing process, or whether it merely slows premature aging due to FM – but both would help us!)

Nutrients that appear to affect telomere length include:

  • Omega-3
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D3
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

Omega-3, B12 and D3 are among the most commonly recommended supplements for FM.

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