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TeloYears Review – Can a Mail Order Product Really Tell You How You Are Aging?

4.2/5 (5 votes)

The fact that we age is inescapable. Most of us take concerted efforts to make sure that we live a healthy life for as long as possible. But how do you know if your efforts are enough, or if you need to do more in order to slow down the ravages of time on your body a little bit? According to scientists, this is in partly due to the DNA and genes, specifically the so-called ‘telomeres’. TeloYears is a genetic test performed by Telomere Diagnostics Inc. that measures your telomeres with the claim that this enables you to discover how well you are aging according to your DNA. That is a pretty impressive claim to make, so is this true?

What Is TeloYears?

Telomere Diagnostics was founded by four scientists including Dr. Elizabeth H. Blackburn, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine because of her work in telomere biology. The company developed a patented way of measuring telomeres, using these measurements to highlight how someone is aging. When you place your order, they will send you a testing kit through the post, with which you need to take a single drop of blood from your finger. You then send this back to the TeloYears lab, which is fully CLIA-certified.

The TeloYears test that the lab will conduct measures the length of your telomeres. A telomere is the protective cap that is found on each chromosome in your body. The older you get, the more these telomeres fray and shorten. Factors like lifestyle, stress, environment, and genetics all have an influence on the length.

After measuring the length of the telomeres in your blood sample, they will calculate the age of a typical person is who has that length. If you have lived a healthy, wholesome life, then it is likely that they will report back an age that is in effect younger than what you really are. However, more often than not, the age will be older.

Should your results show that your age based on your telomeres is older than your actual age, you will be provided with information on how to improve your fitness levels, diet, and overall lifestyle. You can then have your telomeres measured again after six months to a year, to see whether you have made any progress.

However, the question for many is whether the results of this test are relevant. The test isn’t free, although it is a lot more affordable than most other genetic tests.

How Does TeloYears Work?

The best way to understand telomeres is by thinking about shoelaces. Shoelaces have aglets, which are the plastic tips at each end. These aglets are designed to protect the shoelaces from fraying, while at the same time making it easier to thread them through the shoelace holes. After some time, after several uses, the aglets start to fray and gradually get shorter.

The telomere is basically like an aglet is located at the end of your chromosomes. Chromosomes, meanwhile, are made up of DNA. They are repetitive nucleotides and stop our DNA from going through cellular disintegration, meaning that, when a new cell is formed, the right DNA data is transcribed to it. However, like aglets, the telomeres can only do this for so long.

Once they become too short, the DNA information gets affected such that it becomes impossible for the cell to replicate. This leads to senescence, which means aging or deterioration. The regular passage of time is an unstoppable force, so there is nothing you can do about natural telomere deterioration. However, the environment, lifestyle, radiation and toxin exposure, inflammation, and oxidative stress are all also known to have an effect on telomeres. Through a test like TeloYears, you can uncover whether your telomeres have reached a premature state of senescence, which enables you to take action.

Prices and What You Get

TeloYears is currently available to people in the United States only, with the exception of New York and Maryland. Additionally, your age must be between 20 and 80. Upon receiving your blood sample, the company will make a biomarker out of your telomere. Biomarkers are able to indicate whether your cells have been damaged by the environment, infection, or disease. According to the company, this gives them an indication of your ‘cellular reserve’, meaning how long your cell can last.

The science behind TeloYears is quite complex. They first take the ATL (Average Telomere Length) by using a qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) assay, which is a patented technology. This is taken from your blood sample, from which the white blood cells are removed to extract DNA. White blood cells are more susceptible to pathological stress than other cells, which means they give a clearer indicator of overall health. The ATL deducted from your sample is then compared to that of the average man or woman of your age, showing your telomere age. You will then receive a graphical report showing:

  • Your ATL.
  • What your ATL percentile is, indicating how it compares to that of the average person

If you have undergone several TeloYears tests, then the graph will also show whether your situation is getting better or worse.

Your ATL percentile puts you in certain ‘zones’. As such:

  • You are in the green zone if you are in the 50th to 100th percentile, which means your telomere age is young than at least half of people of your gender and age.
  • You are in the gray zone if you are in the 26th to 50th percentile, which means that it is longer than 25% but shorter than the top 50% of people your gender and age.
  • You are in the red zone if you are in the 1st to 25th percentile, meaning that it is shorter than at least 25% of people of your gender and age.

Aside from the above-mentioned graph, you will also receive the Blueprint for Aging Well, which they say will highlight which actions you will have to take in order to improve on your results. The Blueprint comes with a self-assessment tool as well, through which you can take ownership of your telomeres by understanding which factors are shortening them. An action plan is also included that focuses on important issues, such as sleep, stress, and physical activities. Lastly, it comes with a full explanation of the science of telomeres. TeloYears follows HIPAA mandates, which means only you and your ordering doctor will be able to view the information they provide.

All of that costs $89, which is substantially cheaper than most other genetic tests. It comes with the full kit, which includes a prepaid return envelope, an alcohol wipe to clean your finger, a finger lancet and strip for blood collection, a bandage for your finger, and a transport tube. Interestingly, if you order the test but you do not ship it back, then you will receive a full refund, except for the $20 shipping cost.

What I Liked About TeloYears

  • It was devised by a winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
  • It is based on actual science.
  • You can do it at home and don’t have to visit a doctor.
  • The results are easy to understand.
  • It encourages you to live a healthier lifestyle and you can check whether you are improving.
  • It is substantially more affordable than other genetic tests that also test telomeres.

What I Didn’t Like About TeloYears

  • Some of it is a little bit science heavy, which means it can be hard to understand how it all works.
  • It may be frightening to find out that your telomere age is older than your actual age.
  • It does not have FDA clearance or approval.

The Final Verdict

It is important to understand what TeloYears is and what it isn’t. As stated on the company’s website, it is not a method of preventing, screening, diagnosing, or treating medical conditions or diseases. Rather, it is a way of showing you whether or not you are living a healthy lifestyle. This is important information that can empower you to make better lifestyle decisions every step of the way. The fact that the world is becoming less healthy is no secret. Obesity levels continue to rise, as do various associated medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, various forms of cancer, and strokes. Being given a scientific method of determining whether you are heading in that direction yourself can either be very frightening or very empowering.

Because of the fact that it can be frightening, you may want to speak to your family doctor first to determine whether taking the test is a good idea for you. Overall, however, the test provides you with easy to understand (although it is true that the science is anything but easy to understand), and an opportunity to enhance your health. Since you can retake the test if you want, and the graph will clearly show your progress, TeloYears gives you the ability to do better, live longer, and be healthier overall. For that, I fully recommend this test.

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Telomere length is uncorrelated with frailty onset age. Epigenitic factors, however, show more potential in estimating lifespans. I did the TeloYears test. Results showed I had very short telomeres, and was by that estimate 80 rather than actual 73. Since I am very healthy, and very active plus family tends to be long lived I wondered about telomere length’s utility as an age estimator. My opinion, from reading studies, is that telomere length is an unproven or even poor estimator of biological age. Epigenetic factors show more promise in this endeavor. Don’t know if anyone has commercialized an epigenetic based age estimator.

What percentage comes back with a younger age?

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