Health plans have a new, (or soon-to-be new) test to add to their policies.  I wonder if employers will now have to offer employee leave time when the test of the length of a person’s telomeres shows that they are stressed out.  You may be wondering what the heck are telomeres.  Will your health insurance premiums increase if your telomeres are too short?

Your DNA is made up of chromosomes.  At the ends of the chromosomes are stretches of DNA called telomeres.  Telomeres protect our genetic data, make it possible for cells to divide, and hold some secrets to how we age and get cancer.  From Well-Being Wire “Telomeres are segments of DNA that attach to and protect cellular chromosomes, allowing your body to perform important functions like creating white blood cells to fight disease and helping to heal wounds.  Research suggests that shorter telomeres indicate an increased chance of developing cardiovascular disease and may lower life expectancy.”

Out west in California there is a company called Telome Health of Menlo Park.

Dr. Calvin Harley, with Telome Health, says his company has developed a test that can accurately measure the length of a person’s telomeres.  Dr. Harley has stated that “Very short telomeres are what are behind a lot of different age related diseases.”

How do short telomeres relate to stress? Telomeres naturally shorten as we get older.  The shortening can happen faster due to chronic stress.  Along with the above mentioned health problems shortened telomeres can also put you at high risk for dementia.  Scientists are claiming that telomeres are the one part of your DNA that you can actually change.  Dr. Harley claims that “they can shrink or increase in length depending upon your life style and risk exposures.”

Dan Hunt, interim CEO with Telome Health said “If you have very short telomere length and or you monitor your telomere length and they’re rapid reductions in the telomeres, it may be indicative there’s a health problem.”

So now we know why telomeres are important and what they do.  How do you find out if they are shorter?  How does the test work?  Changes Medical & Wellness Spa has the answers.  “The Patient Telomere Score is calculated based on the patient’s telomere length on white blood cells (T-lymphocytes).  This is the average compared to telomere length on lymphocytes from a sample of the American population in the same age range.”

The test should be available by the end of the year.  Telome Health thinks the test should cost around $200.  Perhaps someday soon when you go for your annual check-up it will be routine to check to see if your telomeres have become shorter.