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Test of Time

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WSVN -- From the second we are born we start aging. Christine Menaged is trying to do everything she can to live longer.

Christine Menaged: "I eat pretty healthy. I try to stay stress-free."

The 40-something mom of two thinks she looks pretty good for her age, and works hard at staying in shape.

Christine Menaged: "I work out every day, at least six days a week."

Renee Ramirez is the complete opposite

Renee Ramirez: "Healthwise, I eat a lot of fast food. I survive on fast food Every weekend. I go out clubbing and during the week I get a couple of happy hours."

But when he looks in the mirror, he sees a young man.

Renee Ramirez: "I never thought of myself as getting old, being that I'm 33."

Researchers now know it's not your age or how you look on the outside that matters, it's how fast you are aging at a cellular level.

Dr. Juan Remos: "You really need to look inside to see what the real picture is."

To do that you'll need to know the length of your telomeres.

Jonathan Stein: "Telomeres essentially are long stretches of DNA that are on the ends of each chromosome. They cap them and protect them in the exact same way, that shoe lace protectors protect your shoe laces, and for almost the same reason, they protect your chromosomes from unraveling."

Telomeres shorten as we age and once they get too short, your cells will stop dividing.

Jonathan Stein: "When your cells stop dividing all sorts of bad things happen. We know that shortened telomeres are strongly associated with stroke and cardiovascular risk."

Dr. Remos: "The shorter the telomere, the shorter the life span."

And doctors say how fast telomeres shrink can be dependent on your lifestyle.

Dr. Remos: "If you find that you have a shorter telomere than average for your age, it's very likely you may have lived a fast life, you're a smoker, short sleep, very stressful life."

The Miami Institute of Age Management is now offering a breakthrough telomere test. They take a small amount of blood, send it off to a lab to measure the length of your telomeres.

The higher the telomere score the younger the cells.

Dr. Remos: "Essentially, what it does is it measures the wear and tear on your cells. How fast are your cells aging."

Renee and Christine both took the test. Christine's test results were above average for her age. Meaning her healthy lifestyle is paying off.

Christine Menaged: "I got pretty good results."

But Renee got news that no 33-year-old wants to hear.

Renee Ramirez: "I'm supposed to be on the line, or above. Come to find out I'm under that means that I'm aging quicker."

Meaning his body is essentially older than he is. Doctors say there are things you can do to turn things around.

Dr. Juan Remos: "The most important thing is exercise moderately, eat fruits and vegetables and sleep well. Manage your stress. Stress is a big, big culprit of short telomeres because of the free radicals it releases."

After this test of time, Renee is ready to make some big changes.

Renee Ramirez: "I got married 3 years ago and now we're trying to have kids, so I do want to live a longer life and take care of myself."

Diana Diaz: "Doctors want to stress the telomere test is not a replacement for any other preventative or diagnostic test."

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