Healthy Lifestyle May Reverse Cellular Aging (cont.)

"The participants in the intervention group were highly motivated, as they maintained the intervention regimen for more than five years and they continued to attend meetings when the meetings were not required," Lee said. "One needs to be cautious as to how effective lifestyle changes will be in a large general population where the level of motivation may not be so high."

Lee also regretted that the researchers didn't check health traits such as weight, body-mass index or blood pressure along with the length of the patients' telomeres.

"For example, if the participants in the intervention group with longer telomere length had lower blood pressure, it would have been far more interesting," Lee said. "Even though it may not have been significant statistically due to small sample size, it would have been informative."

The study was not intended to gauge whether lifestyle changes slowed progression of prostate cancer.

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SOURCES: Dean Ornish, M.D., founder and president, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, and clinical professor, medicine, University of California, San Francisco; Joseph Lee, Ph.D., human geneticist, and associate professor, clinical epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York City; Sept. 17, 2013, The Lancet Oncology, online