The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr Elissa Epel

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The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr Elissa Epel

Category: Popular Science
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An elegant mix of the science of telomeres (explained in a way which makes it clear to someone as ignorant of most science as I am) and self-help manual to help you live a longer, healthier life. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416/11h2m Date: January 2017
Publisher: Orion Spring
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0297609230

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I have lived my life determined not to age: I see nothing aspirational in the dependence of old age, whether it be on other people, government in all its forms or the NHS. I'm prepared to put effort into this: it's not the cosmetic image of youth I seek, but rather the ability to do as I do now - running a business, regularly walking for miles in our glorious countryside and enjoying life - for as long as possible. So far it's working out, but what else could I do and why does this work for some people and not for others?

Well, according to Nobel prize winner Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and health psychologist Dr Elissa Epel it's down to your telomeres. Now, unless you're a scientist the chances are that, like me, you don't know what they are. Wikipedia defines them as a region of repetitive nucleotide sequences at each end of a chromosome, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration or from fusion with neighboring chromosomes, but Blackburn and Epel explain them more simply. Think of the plastic bit at the ends of a shoelace (the aglet, if we're being technical) which prevents the lace from fraying - well, that's the function of telomeres. They prevent the chromosomes from fraying and eventually becoming useless. The longer the telomeres, the more healthy you are and the more healthy you're likely to remain for longer. The science is all there in the book, but don't worry about the fact that it's written by two people with PhDs, one of whom is a Nobel Laureate. I struggled to get even a basic science qualification at school and nothing's improved in the intervening half century but I found the science riveting and it left me feeling knowledgeable. It's only a relatively small part of the book but it's worth the effort to understand it as it does set you up to make the most if the self-help sections.

I liked the fact that it's made clear that there's no magic pill which you can take which will lengthen your telomeres. In fact if you do see anything advertised which suggests that it will lengthen your telomeres you should regard it with suspicion. We usually know uncontrolled cell growth by another name - cancer. Surprisingly this isn't a book about what you should eat (or not eat, as is usually the case) and how much you should be exercising. Its first focus is on your mental well being and this is examined in some detail before we move on to sleep, diet and exercise. I particularly appreciated the tips on how to avoid stress.

The suggestions with regard to food reflect, for the most part, the way that I have eaten for years - and I feel that I eat well and have no feeling that I'm missing anything in completely avoiding processed sugars. It was good to see an emphasis on making small changes, one at a time, to minimise the chances of failure and there's an acknowledgement that you might not want to make some changes (I'm struggling with the thought of eliminating plastic bottles from my life: I might get there in the end, but it comes under the heading of 'not right now' in my mind) - the authors regularly suggest that you should make changes 'as far as possible'. It's encouragement rather than prescription, guidance rather than control.

I listened to an audio download narrated by Suzanne Toren. Listening was a pleasure, but I took the unusual step of actually buying the physical book whilst I was still listening to the recording. Toren manages the scientific side of the book well and can even make lists and URLs sound interesting but there was a lot about the book which I wanted to mull over, to consider what changes I wanted to make and it is easier to do this with the printed rather than the spoken word. You might be better at absorbing the spoken word than me, but even when I'd bought into the principles I found that there were still points which I needed to explore in more detail. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy of the audiobook. There is a PDF to accompany the audiobook which does give more details, but I didn't have access to this.

It doesn't have the same level of scientific or professional backing, but we've recently been impressed by Web to Success by Jo Bird.

Buy The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr Elissa Epel at Amazon You could get a free audio download of The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr Elissa Epel with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr Elissa Epel at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr Elissa Epel at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr Elissa Epel at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr Elissa Epel at Amazon.com.


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