Lifestyle & Belief

Common cold risk linked to length of chromosome caps


A new study has shown that the length of chromosome caps called telomeres may determine our susceptibility to the common cold.


Odd Andersen

Scientists believe they have found a reliable way to assess someone's risk of catching the common cold.

Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that the length of chromosome caps called telomeres could help doctors understand why some people are more prone to the common cold.

Older studies have linked longer telomeres with an increased lifespans and better health, said Science World Report.

The study looked at 152 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55.

The healthy paricipants were exposed to the rhonovirus, which causes the common cold.

Participants were then quarantined for five days to see if they developed a cold.

After the five days the study authors found that those with shorter telomeres were more likely to become sick, reported NBC News.

The link wasn't found in the youngest participants in the study, however.

"We knew that people in their late 50s and older with shorter telomeres are at a greater risk for illness and mortality. We also knew that factors other than aging, such as chronic stress and poor health behaviors, are associated with shorter telomeres in older people," said study co-author Sheldon Cohen, said CBS News.

"Consequently, we expected that younger people would vary in their telomere length as well and wanted to see what this would mean for their health."

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.