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Hormone replacement therapy slows down the cellular ageing process

Martin Widschwendter and Chiara Herzog from the EUTOPS Institute of the University of Innsbruck © Patrick Saringer

This was achieved on their discovering an epigenetic "clock". However, this therapy only helps if the women do not have breast cancer. As a result, the researchers have concluded that the epigenetic clocks offer a promising approach towards determining the effectiveness of disease prevention measures. The study was published in the renowned scientific journal Genome Biology. The epigenetic clock is a molecular biological test investigating the markings on the DNA. In this way aging of the cells can be determined, thus enabling the age of a person to be precisely estimated to within a few years.

The scientists led by Martin Widschwendter, Professor for Cancer Prevention and Screening at the University of Innsbruck, were able to prove that a combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) consisting of progesterone and oestrogen succeeded in slowing down the aging of epithelial cells after menopause. Epithelial cells cover inner and outer body surfaces and glands and are essential for the functioning of most organs. The speed of cell aging is linked to a higher risk and increased mortality arising from certain diseases, including cancer.

"The current study shows the enormous potential of epigenetic clocks as a source of information for our biological age," says molecular medicine specialist Chiara Herzog. She is one of the first authors of the study and conducts research at the EUTOPS Institute of the University of Innsbruck. "It will be particularly interesting to study and also to investigate how premature aging could be counteracted."

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