Newsletter: Summer 2010
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Strenuous Exercise Prolongs the Lives of Cells
Italian researchers showed that after running a marathon, a
person's lymphocytes live longer (BMC Physiology, May 2010). This could
help to explain why exercisers live more than 12 years longer than those
who do not exercise (British Journal of Sports Medicine, March 2008).
Every cell in your body has a programmable cell death called apoptosis.
For example, skin cells live 28 days and then die. Cells lining the
inside of your mouth and intestines live 48 hours, and your red blood
cells live 120 days.
When cells become cancerous, they live forever.
They lose apoptosis and forget to die. Cancer cells then transfer to
other tissues to prevent them from functioning. For example, breast
cancer cells become so abundant that they may travel to your liver and
damage it so you lose liver function. They travel to your brain and you
lose brain function. Cancer cells kill by preventing other tissues from
functioning in your body. What would happen if your cells lived longer
than they are supposed to, but still retained apoptosis and died, only
later than they normally do? Perhaps you would live longer. This study
shows that running a marathon prolongs the life of cells by increasing
many of the messenger chemicals associated with delayed apoptosis,
including SIRT1 (an enzyme that contributes to longevity).
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