It appears that the results of a new study indicate that alcohol can increase life expectancy, while caffeine can lessen it.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University found that caffeine shortens, and alcohol lengthens, telomeres – the end parts of chromosomal DNA, according to Mail Online.
Telomeres keep chromosomes stable and prevent deterioration when the cells containing them divide. They become shorter as a person gets older as every time a cell duplicates, the chromosomes are copied into the new cell with slightly shorter telomeres. When they become too short, the cell dies. Shorter telomeres are associated with poor health and an increased chance of premature death.
News Medical reports that the researchers found that caffeine shortens and alcohol lengthens telomeres by working with a kind of yeast that shares many important genetic similarities with humans.
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"For the first time we've identified a few environmental factors that alter telomere length, and we've shown how they do it," Professor Martin Kupiec said. "What we learned may one day contribute to the prevention and treatment of human diseases."
The researchers reportedly set out to establish if different environmental factors had an impact on telomere length in yeast cells. They found temperature and pH changes had no effect, but they found that telomere length was reduced by even low levels of caffeine, while it was increased by alcohol.