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Bariatric Surgery May Reverse Aging on Genetic Level

News | Adelaide Bariatric Centre

4 Dec 2013 12:33 PM

lab scientist

Recent research has found that bariatric surgery may reverse the aging process on the genetic level. Researchers in the US have identified a connection between bariatric surgery and telomeres - DNA on the end of chromosomes that is a biomarker of aging.

According to a study conducted by Stanford University, post-bariatric surgery weight loss was associated with increased telomere length, which indicates decreased aging.

“This unique study demonstrates that surgically induced weight loss is able to reverse a marker of aging, telomere length,” said Dr John Morton, lead author of the study.

“Past research has shown a tie between telomere length following weight loss through diet and exercise, but not through bariatric surgery.”

The study examined 51 bariatric surgery patients, of which 77 per cent were female and with an average age of 48.6 years old. One year post-surgery, the patients showed a 71 per cent decrease in excess body weight in addition to improvements in CRP (a marker of inflammation) and fasting insulin. The most significant increases in telomere length occurred in patients with higher baseline levels of CRP and LDL cholesterol.

“Telomeres protect chromosomes and the genetic information they contain,” Dr. Morton said.

“Shortening is associated with age-related diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as reduced lifespan. It is also linked to increased adiposity, higher BMI, and visceral fat accumulation.”

Dr Bruce Wolfe, Professor of Surgery and Co-Director of Bariatric Surgery, Oregon Health and Science University, said results such as this study improved understanding of long-term weight loss surgery outcomes.

“Telomere erosion is known to be a marker of cellular longevity; however, little is known about the direct effects of telomere lengthening on health outcomes,” he said.

“Results like these are an important addition to our understanding of the role of telomeres in aging and disease, as well as the long-term benefits of bariatric surgery.”