Chromosome Ends

Longer Telomeres: A Bonus from Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Lose weight and gain telomeres with bariatric surgery. It’s not exactly compelling ad copy, but it might be an important insight into the benefits of bariatric surgery. Researchers from the Geisinger Obesity Research Institute have found longer telomeres in 60% of people three to five years after they had gastric bypass surgery.

Telomeres: An Important Measure of Cellular Aging

A telomere is like a little cap on the end of a chromosome that protects it from damage. As cells age, these tips get shorter and shorter. Longer telomeres help cells grow and divide without losing genetic material. As they grow shorter, cells are more likely to have problems growing and dividing. The cells may not function as well. They may die. Or they may become malignant.

So this is good news for someone considering gastric bypass surgery. Untreated, severe obesity can accelerate cellular aging. A prior study showed telomere growth after ten years in bypass patients. But this is the first to show telomere regrowth within three to five years.

It’s one more marker for improved health and vitality in patients who receive effective treatment for severe obesity.

Click here for the new study and here for the prior study on ten-year outcomes.

Chromosome Ends, photograph © Thomas Reid, NIH Image Gallery / flickr

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July 17, 2017