The length of an individual's 'telomeres' - buffer caps which mark the beginning and end of the DNA sequences of chromosomes - have been used as a measure of actual physical 'ageing' (as opposed to measurement in years). [ * see note below ]
As the telomeres become shorter during the natural ageing process, their buffering action is weakened, and errors become more prevalent during the DNA copying process in cell divisions. These genetic mutations can lead to cancer and other problems.
It's currently thought that various environmental factors - e.g. smoking and exercise levels - can affect telomere lengths. Recently (2019 onwards), a series of studies regarding possible links between alcohol consumption and telomere length (and hence on ageing) have given conflicting results. Some studies showing there's no appreciable effect, and others suggesting that there is.
A 2022 paper published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry performed a new study which found that some individuals with a genetic predisposition and moderate alcohol use could potentially lose as much as 3 years in lifespan.
But more research is needed to pinpoint alcohol as the single cause rather than other factors ( e.g. exercise levels and diet etc.)
Our findings indicate that alcohol consumption may shorten telomere length.â [our italics]
Source : Molecular Psychiatry volume 27, pages 4001â4008 (2022)
If the findings are upheld, it may help to clarify the currently unexplained link between
* Note: For several decades, the length of an individual's telomeres was taken to be an accurate measure of their degree of ageing - recent research, however, is suggesting that the picture is considerably more complex than was originally thought. See:
Also see :
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