According to a Stanford University study, there are chromosome caps (telomere) which typically grow shorter as people age that grew longer in those who endured gastric bypass surgery. Dr. John Morton, Chief of Bariatric Surgery at Stanford said that if these telomeres, in fact, do get longer, they are likely to reverse the effects of aging.* The study was presented during Obesity Week on November 13. It 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, the effects have the greatest potential to make a positive effect on the patient. The study’s researchers invite others to do more research on the genetic effects of weight loss surgery.
The study is the first to look at surgical weight loss and chromosome caps. While the study didn’t prove that wrinkles or gray hair will be improved, it does show that it can make patients look younger regarding minor visual changes.
About the Study
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% as well as their fasting insulin levels. This helped to reduce the risk of dangerous metabolic syndrome by nearly 4 times.
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 a 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 something different in regards to weight loss surgery.