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'Youthful' DNA May Prevent Cancer In Elderly, Study Finds

First Posted: Sep 26, 2016 03:46 AM EDT
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Experts say that the most important cause of aging is a process called dysregulation of the DNA. However, it was also found that it does not  happen in everyone's genes, that's why in some people, the DNA appears to be younger even though they're already in their advanced years.

Indian Express reported that researchers discovered that the dysregulation of the DNA can act as a precursor to different diseases such as cancer, and at the same time, having youthful DNA may prevent diseases. Young people's DNA is usually controlled to exhibit the right genes at the exact time. However, after years have passed, the regulation of the DNA slowly gets interrupted. According to the study, this is the main reason why people age.

"The study suggests that the dysregulation of the DNA is a fundamental process that could push the risk of different diseases in the wrong direction," said Bas Heijmans, an epigeneticist at the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. It was also stated in the study published in the journal Genome Biology, that in cancer cells changes in the regulation of the DNA at the same sites was found as if the differences occurring with aging were something that would influence disease processes, reported Economic Times.

"We, therefore, want to study whether a dysregulated DNA increases the risk of different forms of cancer and, conversely, a 'youthful' DNA is protective," added Roderick Slieker from Leiden University Medical Center.

The study also said that researchers in the study recorded the regulation of the DNA of more than 3,000 people by measuring the level of methylation, which is a process where cells control the gene activity, at almost half a million sites in the human DNA. News-Medical.net also reported that not everyone involved in the study showed evidence of an age-related dysregulation of the DNA. However, researchers tried looking for sites where the difference of the regulation rose between people as time passes.

Researchers involved in the study also said that some elderly people were found to have DNA that was regulated as if they were still within their 20s. Genes characteristic of the aging process were not very active, according to researchers.

Meanwhile, Heijmans explained that they believe they were able to catch the aging process in the act. He said: "The dysregulation of the DNA that we discovered went hand in hand with higher activity in genes that continuously try to repair damage to cells. This process is not fully effective and in the long run, leads to aging," added Heijmans.

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