What is a telomere test?
A telomere test is a blood test that measures the length of telomeres, the protective structures located at the tips of chromosomes. The test is intended to reveal a person's biological age, which is the age a person shares with most people of similar physiology.
Whereas chronological age measures the number of years since birth, biological age measures changes in the physical structures of the body (such as organs and bones), sensory perception, and motor skills. A person's chronological age and biological age aren't always the same. Telomeres are considered a good indication of a person's biological age.
Most chromosomes have telomeres that normally shorten as a person gets older. By analyzing telomere length individuals may gain insights into their health, lifespan and susceptibility to diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer's.
For example, a 70-year-old man with relatively long telomeres may be considered to have a young biological age and, therefore, have better health and longer to live than a 70-year-old man with shorter telomeres.
Conversely, a 35-year-old woman with relatively short telomeres may be considered to have a biological age of 45, meaning she is aging faster than normal and has the telomere length of an average 45-year-old. She may also be at higher risk for cancer, heart disease and early death.
Generally speaking, in a group of people of the same chronological age, those with longer telomeres are more likely to outlive those with shorter telomeres.