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What are telomeres?

Telomeres are found on the ends of your chromosomes, the bodies in your cells that carry your genetic information. Telomeres are made of DNA and protein which act as caps to protect the ends of your chromosomes from unravelling.

Why are telomeres important?

As part of cell division, all of the DNA in your chromosomes must be copied by special enzymes called polymerases. Polymerases cannot copy the end of your DNA and so every time your cells divide, a small bit of DNA is lost from the chromosome. If these lost bits of DNA containing genes, it could cause a lot of problems in the cell. Telomeres act as caps on the end of the chromosomes and helps to protect the DNA and genetic information. When the telomeres a reach critical short length, the cells stop dividing and eventually die.

What else can affect telomere length?

There is a special type of polymerase called telomerase which can add telomere DNA back onto the ends of chromosomes. However, telomerase can only active in a small subset of cells in the adult body and most of your healthy cells do not have active telomere. Therefore, the length of your telomeres can be used to give some idea of the biological age of your cells. ‘Younger’ cells have longer telomeres and ‘older’ cells have shorter telomeres. It is important to note that this biological age may not be the same as your actual age, your cells can be ‘older’ or ‘younger’ than you are.

Telomere length can be affected by genetics. Some people are born with longer telomeres and some people are born with shorter telomeres. Men tend to have shorter telomeres than women of the same age.

Lifestyle choice such as smoking, eating a diet rich in fatty, processed foods and not exercising may result in shorter telomeres. When you’re under oxidative stress, you lose more DNA from the ends of your chromosomes which may make your cells age faster! Healthy lifestyle choice such as eating a diet rich in anti-oxidants and exercising may help protect your telomeres and reduce your risk of chronic disease.

How are telomere length and health related to each other?

Short telomeres have been associated with obesity and a poor cholesterol profile. These can increase the levels of oxidative stress and inflammation in your body and damage your telomeres. People with type 1 & 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease may have short telomeres. If you have a high blood pressure and short telomeres, you may be at greater risk of plaque build-up in the arteries which feed your brain. Also, short telomeres are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and disease.

At DOCTORnow, we are now able to offer telomere testing as part of our range of services. The test consists of a blood test as part of a 30 minute consultation with no special preparation or fasting required. The results typically take between 3-4 weeks to come back at which point a second 30 minute consultation will be arranged to view your results. If necessary, we will discuss what you can do to protect your telomeres in the future and develop a plan. Follow up tests can then be conducted between 6-12 months including a last test to mark the effectiveness of the plan.

DOCTORnow is delivering telomere testing in partnership with Life Length.


Test Appointments needed Appointment length Appointment with Total fee (payable at time test taken) Members Total fee (payable at time test taken)Non-Members
1st test 1st appointment 30 mins Doctor (includes blood being taken) £590 £690
Follow up appointment when blood results are in 30 mins Doctor
Optional follow-up testing:
1st follow up test (6-12 months after the 1st test) 1st appointment 15 mins Nurse (for blood to be taken) £525 £575
Follow up appointment when blood results are in 30 mins Doctor
2nd follow up test  (6-12 months after the 2nd test) 1st appointment 15 mins Nurse (for blood to be taken) £450


Follow up appointment when blood results are in 15 mins Doctor


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