Monday, April 23, 2012

Violence Can Shorten Children's Telomeres

Various life adversities have been found to shorten our telomeres—the DNA-protein complexes that cap the ends of chromosomes and that, if they become too short, cause cell death. While telomere shortening has been linked with characteristics of aging, it now appears that this phenomenon can occur even in children. As researchers reported April 24 in Molecular Psychiatry, children who had experienced violence had shorter telomeres than children who had not been victims of violence.

Moreover, it looks as if the negative personality trait of hostility can chip away at telomere length as well, at least in men. Hostility has long been associated with an increased risk of age-related disease and all-cause mortality. So hostility may adversely affect health by curtailing telomeres and hastening cell death.

For more information about this study, see Psychiatric News .

(Image: Ayelet KIeshet/


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