Psychological and nutritional determinants of telomere and genome integrity in dementia carers
Alzheimer's Australia Dementia Research Foundation
Telomeres are regions of DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes from damage, and play a critical role in keeping our DNA healthy. Damaged and unstable chromosomes are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, reduced immune function, neurodegeneration, and cancers. People who experience high levels of psychological stress, such as carers, have shorter telomeres than lower-stress individuals. This study will investigate telomere length and DNA damage of family dementia carers, together with a panel of psychological, physiological, diet and lifestyle measures. This novel, comprehensive approach will allow us to determine which specific diet and lifestyle factors help protect the genome against stress-related damage in carers. Findings from this study will help to define practical, effective measures to empower carers to protect their DNA health, reduce risk for chronic disease and improve their overall health and wellbeing.