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PEOPLE age more quickly if [...].

PEOPLE age more quickly if they have a bad diet and low income, according to scientists. Researchers looked at the DNA of a group of adults in Glasgow.

The scientists measured the length of telomeres, found at the end of chromosomes, which shorten as people get older.

Over a 10-year period the telomeres shortened by an average of 7.7% in people whose household income was below pounds 25,000. For those on higher incomes, telomeres shortened by an average of 0.6%.

Dr Paul Shiels, of the Institute of Cancer Sciences at Glasgow University, said: "Telomeres act like the plastic caps on the end of your shoelaces - they protect the chromosomes and stop them fraying.

"Their ability to protect the chromosomes decreases as the body ages, with the length of the telomere gradually shortening. The rate at which the shortening occurs can be increased in disease and can be increased by other stresses.

"We show that accelerated ageing is associated with deprivation and poor diet in Glasgow. This is most prevalent in the over-55s and those with household incomes under pounds 25,000. This effect is exacerbated by diet: simply not eating your five portions of fruit and veg a day."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 1, 2011
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