British and American researchers will report findings on Saturday linking obesity and smoking to a well-known indicator of cellular aging.

 

The report, to be published in the medical journal The Lancet, shows that obese women and female smokers have shorter cellular structures known as telomeres.

 

Telomeres are found at the ends of chromosomes and become shorter every time a cell divides. Once their telomeres reach a critically short length, cells are no longer able to divide and some die as a result.

 

Therefore scientists have suggested a link between aging cells with shorter telomeres, and the wrinkled skin and immune system decline that come naturally with aging.