According to a recent Stanford University study, the chromosome caps (telomere), which typically grow shorter as people age, actually grow longer in those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery. Dr. John Morton, Chief of Bariatric Surgery at Stanford, believes that if these telomeres get longer, they are likely to reverse the effects of aging.
The study found that while there were some improvements in telomere growth, it wasn’t significant at only 2-3%. However, for those that are sick with heart disease or chronic inflammation, these effects have the greatest potential to make a positive effect on the patient.
While the researchers have invited others to do more research on the genetic effects of weight loss surgery, the study is the first to look at the relationship between surgical weight loss and chromosome caps. The study didn’t prove that wrinkles or gray hair will be improved, but it does show that it can make patients look younger regarding minor visual changes.
How Weight Loss Surgery Slows Down Signs of Aging
The patients studied were mostly women with an average age of 49 years old. The women’s average body mass index (BMI) was 44.3, or morbidly obese. A BMI of 18-25 is considered normal for a woman.
The study’s researchers found that the patients in the study lost nearly 71% of their excess weight with gastric bypass surgery. This surgical procedure reduces the size of the stomach and allows the food to avoid a part of the small intestines, which promotes weight loss.
The women’s C-reactive protein levels dropped more than 60%. Their fasting insulin levels dropped as well which together, helped reduce the risk of dangerous metabolic syndrome by nearly 4 times.
The Anti-Aging Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery
For patients with high cholesterol before surgery, the length of telomeres seemed to grow the most. Many genetic scientists believe that those who are overweight have dramatically shorter telomeres, which can lead to early aging.
This is because, when chromosomes divide, the telomeres, in fact, get shorter. Cells will reduce so much that at some point they will die. This will lead to the onset of aging.
While the study is the first of its kind, it is no secret that more concentrated research is required to show a major conclusion between aging and weight loss surgery. However, the study opened the eyes of some scientists and geneticists to look at the different benefits and effects of weight loss surgery.