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Bariatric surgery reverses obesity-related premature aging

Obesity is known to cause premature aging, and the mechanisms that underpin this process are slowly being uncovered. New research finds that bariatric surgery not only aids weight loss, it also reverses molecular aging.

Obesity increases the risk of a number of serious conditions, not least, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
Being clinically obese also hastens the aging process, a fact which, over the last few years, has been pinned down to certain molecular processes.
Earlier research has shown that obesity increases levels of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in fat cells, leading to a shortening of the telomeres – a marker of aging.
Telomeres are structures positioned at the ends of each chromosome, providing protection to the DNA. Each time a cell divides, a small portion of the telomere is lost.
Once the telomere reaches a critical limit, the cell goes through a process of senescence (cells stop dividing permanently) or apoptosis (cells commit suicide).
Various lifestyle choices can increase the rate at which the telomeres are degraded; these include smoking, bad diet, lack of exercise, and obesity.
Obesity and premature aging
Obese people are known to have shorter telomeres, but they also show other hallmarks of premature cellular aging; they display higher levels of inflammation and increased volumes of inflammatory cytokines – cellular messengers which often act to make disease worse.
A recent study examined whether bariatric surgery could reverse these cellular signs of aging. The findings were presented yesterday at the Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology (FCVB) 2016 conference in Florence, Italy.
Bariatric surgery is a procedure that significantly reduces the size of the stomach. Weight loss can be dramatic; the surgery can reduce body weight by 30-40 percent over the course of just 1 year. A team of researchers from the University of Vienna, Austria, set out to discover whether the cellular processes of aging were also reversed.

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