An important new paper, Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress, provides some dramatic evidence consistent with the telomere theory of aging.
Here is the abstract:
Numerous studies demonstrate links between chronic stress and
indices of poor health, including risk factors for cardiovascular
disease and poorer immune function. Nevertheless, the exact
mechanisms of how stress gets ”under the skin” remain elusive.
We investigated the hypothesis that stress impacts health by
modulating the rate of cellular aging. Here we provide evidence
that psychological stress–both perceived stress and chronicity of
stress–is significantly associated with higher oxidative stress,
lower telomerase activity, and shorter telomere length, which are
known determinants of cell senescence and longevity, in peripheral
blood mononuclear cells from healthy premenopausal women.
Women with the highest levels of perceived stress have telomeres
shorter on average by the equivalent of at least one decade of
additional aging compared to low stress women. These findings
have implications for understanding how, at the cellular level,
stress may promote earlier onset of age-related diseases.