Fish oils may hold the key to longer and healthier life, claim researchers.
They say omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may have a direct effect on extending the lifespan of cells.
Their study is the first to link the oils either from fish or supplements with the body’s ability to resist premature ageing.
The ‘elixir of life’ discovery was made in heart disease patients, who are already advised to increase their fish intake to ward off repeat heart attacks.
Scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, looked at the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on 608 outpatients with heart disease.
They found higher levels of omega-3 slowed down damage to DNA contained in telomeres tiny ‘caps’ on the ends of chromosomes which help protect against inflammation and other ageing processes.
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Having longer telomeres is a sign of being biologically younger and also of being healthier.
As people age, their telomeres get shorter and they become more susceptible to certain illnesses.
Scientists believe this process is at the heart of many age-related diseases, and may even place a final limit on human lifespan.
Nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton, speaking on behalf of the Health Supplements Information Service, said: ‘If this link between high omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduced ageing is confirmed in other studies, this has important implications for intakes of omega 3 fatty acids.’
January 21, 2010