Narrator: This is Science Today. For the first time, researchers have found evidence that lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise and stress management may lengthen telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that control cellular aging.
Ornish: Until now, we thought that only telomeres can get shorter. Now, we found that they can actually get longer.
Narrator: Dr. Dean Ornish, who led the University of California, San Francisco study, explains that the telomeres, which are likened to the plastic tips on shoelaces, help keep our DNA and chromosomes from unraveling. As they shorten and weaken, there is a rise in age-related diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
Ornish: We found that the telomeres actually got longer by almost 10 percent in the group that made lifestyle changes, whereas they got shorter by about 3 percent of the control group. And we also found that the more people change their lifestyle, the longer their telomeres got at any age and that's a very empowering finding.
Narrator: Since this was a small pilot study, Ornish hopes others will be motivated to conduct larger, randomized trials to confirm their findings. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.