What is TeloYears?

Founded by the co-winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine, TeloYears has developed a patented method for measuring telomeres, which they claim can help you “discover what your DNA says about how well you’re aging.”

After placing your order, the TeloYears kit is sent right to your doorstep. You’ll collect just one drop of blood from your finger and mail it back in the pre-paid envelope to the company’s CLIA-certified lab.

Once there, they’ll measure your telomere length. These are the protective caps on the ends of your chromosomes that tend to shorten and fray as you age, depending on factors like genetics, environment, stress, and lifestyle.

Based on this length, the company will report your age in TeloYears, or the actual age of the typical man or woman whose telomere length is similar to yours. This number can be older or younger than your actual age.

If older, TeloYears claims you can use these results to improve your lifestyle and fitness choices. Then, you can have your telomeres re-measured in 6-12 months to track your progress.

The cool factor for TeloYears’ testing service is clearly off the charts. But what about its real-world relevance?

In other words, can you realistically expect to improve your health based on a TeloYears report? Does it represent a valuable use of your money?

What does the science have to say? Are there other telomere measuring services competing in the same space as TeloYears?

You have a ton of questions. Here, we’ll discuss what we learned during our research to help you find some answers, starting with the basics.

How Does TeloYears Measure Your Telomeres?

How Do Telomeres Relate to Aging?

You know how shoelaces have thin strips of plastic at the ends (known as aglets)? They’re in place to help protect it and make lacing your shoes easier. But over time and with regular use, they become frayed and are less able to their job.

Telomeres, located at the tips of our chromosomes (structures made of tightly-wound DNA), do much the same thing.

These repetitive nucleotide base pairs help keep our DNA from coming apart during cellular division, thereby ensuring our genetic data is accurately transcribed to the new cell. But the more they protect our DNA during this process, the shorter they grow and the more frayed they become.

Once telomeres become short enough, the cell is no longer able to replicate, leading to a state called senescence (deterioration; aging). In addition to the natural aging process, it’s thought that other factors like oxidative stress, inflammation, toxins, radiation, lifestyle, and the environment can also impact how quickly our telomeres age and reach a senescent state.

TelmoreAn illustration of how telomeres (the orange ends of the chromosome) can shorten over time as they protect genetic information during cell division. Image credit: Telomere Diagnostics

The Patented TeloYears Process

Important note: Currently, the TeloYears test is only available for individuals between the ages of 20 to 80 within the United States, except for the states of Maryland and New York.

According to TeloYears, the company can use this telomere shortening as a biomarker (a measurement that can be used to indicate disease, infection, or environmental exposure) for the lifetime of your cell. Or, as the company puts it, your telomere length is an indicator of how much “cellular reserve” you have remaining.

To accomplish this, TeloYears measures the average length of your telomeres (known as ATL) using a “proprietary quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay,” which uses DNA extracted from the white blood cells in the sample you provided.

This is because leukocytes (white blood cells) are particularly sensitive to pathological stress, so we’re told they may better reflect your whole-body health.

Then, your ATL is compared to the typical physical age of men and women who share the same. This determines your age in TeloYears, which may be younger or older than your actual age.

All of this data is summarized in a TeloYears Test Report, which graphically displays:

  • Your average telomere length (ATL)
  • How your ATL compares to others (percentile)
  • Your results over time (if you’ve undergone more than one test)

TeleYears Sample ReportIn this example, the individual’s telomeres are longer than 72% of men his age, putting him in the green zone. Image credit: Telomere Diagnostics

If TeloYears finds that your telomeres are longer than at least half of the people your age and gender (50th to 100th percentile), this puts you in the green zone.

Gray means your telomeres are longer than at least a quarter but shorter than the top half of the people your age and gender (26th to 50th percentile), while the red zone means that your telomeres are shorter than at least a quarter but shorter than the top half of the people your age and gender (zero to 25th percentile).

Along with your TeloYears test, you’ll receive the Blueprint for Aging Well, which promises to help you take action based on your results.

This includes a self-assessment tool that can help you manage your TeloYears, understand how different factors can accelerate telomere shortening, novice-to-expert action plan suggestions (e.g. physical activity, stress, sleep, etc.), and a “deep dive” into the science of telomeres.

All of your TeloYears report information is available only to you and the ordering doctor, as mandated by HIPAA.

What Does Science Say About the Usefulness of Telomere Tests Like TeloYears’?

To be upfront, this is a massive discussion. But we know you’re busy, so we’ll provide as balanced a look as possible, in as short a space as possible.

What Is a Biomarker?

We quickly referenced the term earlier, but in a nutshell, it’s perhaps easiest to think of a biomarker as a biological signpost that can indicate if something is wrong. In other words, it can work as a clinical and a diagnostic tool to indicate a biological state or condition.

Common biomarker examples include body temperature (indicates fever), blood pressure (indicates risk of a stroke), cholesterol (indicates risk for coronary disease), and the HER2 protein (may indicate cancer).

From there, your doctor might use these common biomarkers to formulate a treatment plan (e.g. ibuprofen for fever, adjusted diet for cholesterol, etc.).

Why is this an important concept as relates to TeloYears?

Since telomere measuring tests like these are a recent phenomenon, much of the related research—while substantial—is currently in its infancy. As a result, authoritative websites report that it’s unclear exactly what kind of biological marker is represented by telomere length.

Is There Clinical Proof For the Accuracy of Telomere Measurement Tests?

Continuing this thought, the TeloYears website is correct; there is some clinical evidence that might associate telomere length with diseases like obesity and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease, along with mood disorders like anxiety, depression, and panic disorder.

Further, there are also some studies indicating that changes to lifestyle factors, such as exercise, diet, and stress management, may slow down telomere shortening and even increase length in some instances.

In fact, the TeloYears website lists 12 such studies to support some of their claims. And if you want more than 6,500 related studies, try searching for the term “telomere length” on the NIH’s PubMed.

Again, though, while existing evidence seems to indicate a close relationship between telomere length and aging, there doesn’t seem to be this same level of evidence showing that telomere length can act as any sort of biomarker to formulate a health plan.

Let’s carry this thought over to the next section.

What Are Authoritative Websites Saying About Telomere Tests?

The HighYa team isn’t staffed by geneticists. But many authoritative websites we encountered during our research reinforced the potentially wide chasm that exists between measuring telomere length and its value as relates to an assessment of health.

The Genetic Literacy Project notes the scientific community understands that age and telomere length are related, but that there are a lot of discrepancies in the literature beyond this most general finding:

"To the end, it's unclear of telomere length is of any real clinical value. Is it truly a valuable biomarker for unhealthy behaviors? Perhaps it is just another superficial sign, like gray hair and a shorter walking stride, of aging."

They go on to conclude that monitoring or repairing telomere length might be akin to dying gray hair in the fight against aging. "It could be nothing but cosmetic."

Science-Based Medicine takes us deeper into this thought process:

"We are nowhere near clinic- and community-ready measures of telomeres, because our methods disagree with each other and with assessments analyzed in other labs, and because efforts to develop summary numbers depend on the assumptions and statistics that are used. Importantly, there are no commonly-accepted calibrators or standards, so comparison across laboratories and the studies that rely on them is difficult."

This article can be a dense read, but we’d highly recommend checking it out if you’re looking to get a good handle on the situation.

Finally, writing for Slate, Daniel Engber calls many of these telomere testing services a “spurious health trend,” based on the overall lack of clinical consensus:

“A review from 2010 listed 10 studies of telomere length and early death, of which five found no association whatsoever. Different groups also tried and failed to link the length of telomeres with patients’ blood pressure, lung function, and grip strength (an indicator of overall health). Some studies did find that shorter telomeres predicted cognitive impairment—cellular aging might predispose you to dementia, for example—but other analyses found the opposite.”

Are real-world TeloYears customers expressing the same concerns?

What We Learned From TeloYears Reviews

From a company perspective, Menlo Park, CA-based Telomere Diagnostics was co-founded in 2010 by Elizabeth Blackburn who, along with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for 2009.

However, the TeloYears test wasn’t released until October 2016. As a result, we only found one consumer-oriented review on Reddit, who—while it didn’t appear they tried the test—seemed to harbor much of the same skepticism about the functionality of the information it provides.

We also found reviews in publications like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, although these weren’t hands-on reviews.

Now, what will you pay to have your telomeres measured with TeloYears?

How Much Does TeloYears Cost?

The TeloYears test is priced at $89.

TeloYears Sample Collection KitYour TeloYears test comes with everything you’ll need, including finger lancet, blood collection strip, transport tube, bandage, and pre-paid return envelope. Image credit: Telomere Diagnostics

All orders come with a 30-day refund policy, less $20 to cover S&H, as long as you haven’t shipped your blood sample to the company’s laboratory.

In order to request a refund, you’ll need to contact customer support at (844) 457-9944 or info@teloyears.com.

How does this price compare?

How Does TeloYears Compare to Other Genetic Tests?

We’ve frequently written about popular genetic testing services, and even wrote an in-depth guide to figuring out if a genetic test is right for you.

However, those tests are typically used for entertainment or genealogy purposes, or for detecting the presence of cancer or genetic diseases.

On the other hand, there are dozens of telomere measuring tests competing in the same space as TeloYears. How do their key factors stack up?

Here are a handful of popular options (note: some options will require a blood draw at a clinical, instead of your home):

Company Price Report Details
TeloYears $89 Blueprint for Aging Well: Actionable information to improve reduce telomere shortening
SpectraCell Laboratories $290 Patient Telomere Score: Average length compared to those in the same age range
Titanovo $135 Visualized data: Compare results with anonymous data pool based on age, sex, habitation, etc.
Repeat Diagnostics $250 for report Technical data related to lymphocyte and granulocyte levels

As you can see, TeloYears is the least expensive option. And from a consumer perspective, they promise to provide the most down-to-earth, actionable information. But does this mean you should place your order?

The Bottom Line About TeloYears’ Cellular Age Test

We think the disclaimer at the bottom of the TeloYears website succinctly summarizes much of what we’ve discussed here:

“The TeloYears test is not intended for screening, diagnosing, treating or preventing diseases or medical conditions. … The performance characteristics of this test were determined by Telomere Diagnostics. It has not been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”

In layman’s terms, outside of the laboratories in which telomere tests like TeloYears are processed, they’re not subject to any oversight by the FDA. Their claims—including their diagnostic accuracy—aren’t monitored, their results (and the data they’re based on) are determined in-house, and other telomere testing services might not deliver the same conclusions.

Given this, is there any medical validity to TeloYears’ testing service? Again, we’re not genetics experts and we didn’t try the service ourselves.

But if you’re looking to make a fully empowered decision, you now have a core understanding of how TeloYears works. As a result, we’d recommend making an appointment with your physician and asking any potential questions raised here.

In the meantime, with a co-winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine as a founder and an extensively informative website, we have no doubt that TeloYears is a legitimate company. But only by taking what you’ve learned here and speaking with your doctor can you decide if it’ll deliver the right level of value.

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14 Customer Reviews for TeloYears

Average Customer Rating: 2.1
Rating Snapshot:
5 stars: 3 4 stars: 1 3 stars: 0 2 stars: 0 1 stars: 10
Bottom Line: 21% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 14
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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    I am 83 and my TeloYears report said my telomeres are those of a 17 year old!

    I am 83, and my TeloYears report said my telomeres are longer than those of a 20-year-old. I had to lie on my application and say I was 80 years old because my application would have been rejected if I told the truth.

    My telomeres were reported to be 1.17, which places me in the teenager category. If you believe this, "I have a bridge for sale."

    I called the company to challenge the results. A counselor called me back after supposedly running my test again. She said I was the first person to complain about the test results because they were too favorable. She said the second test proved to be the same as the first test, so all she said was, "Congratulations." Based on these results, I should live to about 150. BALONEY!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    I will report to FBI

    I have never gotten the results of the test. I will dispute the charge with my credit card company. Now I see authors have the same problems, and I will report it to the FBI as a fraud by wire scheme.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 0 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Not accurate

    • Ventura, CA,
    • Apr 8, 2017

    I am a healthy 42-year-old woman, exercise regularly, and eat healthily. I've never smoked, rarely drink, never had high cholesterol, high blood pressure or any other illnesses. I sleep very well. My BMI is average, and I am slender. This test says I'm 51 in TeloYears. This cannot be accurate.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Inaccurate

    I received inaccurate results.

    I am a vegetarian, long distance runner, fit yoga practicing, weight lifting lady, and a retired physician. I ran marathons and ultras until age 55. I have been taking care of my health since age 38, and although I am 75, I continue to exercise five days a week and eat well. I participate in Advanced heat sculpt classes and aerobics and lift weights.

    Their results indicate that I am 80 by telomere length.

    I am amused at the pamphlets included; don't eat junk foods or meat etc. and engage in exercise. I have not since age 38.

    I intend to continue to live a healthy lifestyle and do feel their results are not only inaccurate, but laughable.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 3 people found this review helpful

    I don't know if I'll EVER get the results.

    After two samples and three months, I have yet to see an analysis of my telomeres. I'm starting to think this company is running a scam.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 4 people found this review helpful

    I loved my outcome.

    Telo Years was something that I was very interested in finding out more information. I ordered the test and it arrived very quickly. Sent it back in a prepaid envelope. I received my test results in about a month. I was 65 at the time and my results came back at 41. With that result, I can say this makes this aging thing much easier!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Interesting Results

    • Highland, IN,
    • Mar 28, 2017

    My twin sister and I took the TeloYears test and found the process to be quick and easy. We received our results in a couple of weeks, and our ages in TeloYears were slightly different. We were not surprised by this since we follow different lifestyles when it comes to diet and activity level. It was interesting to find out how we're aging, and we've told many of our friends about it.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    The Future of Healthcare, Fitness & Wellness

    • San Francisco, CA,
    • Mar 28, 2017

    I only have one piece of advice, take the Teloyears test! It is the only reliable aging/ DNA supported by Nobel Prize winning research. I completely trust it and find its results absolutely valuable.

    It is the first time in human history that we can easily take a look at our DNA and see if our lifestyle is adding years of health to our life or if the way we live, think, feel are robbing us of our aliveness and wellbeing. I changed my lifestyle in 2010 to be more healthy and I started to eat a 100% organic, plant-based diet, I took on yoga, pilates, hiking and meditation. I could tell I felt wonderful but there was no test that could measure how my lifestyle choices affect my genetic material.

    Now I know and I feel inspired to keep on doing what I have been doing for 7 years. I am 42 and my telomeres show the "youth" of a 20-year old. Thank you, Teloyears!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Could not help laughing

    • Mclean, VA,
    • Mar 27, 2017

    The experience dealing with the company was good but the result was laughable. I am a completely healthy, always told looking 10 years younger, perfect figure (34-28-34) female of 50 years. No regular medications, mostly vegetarian, exercises 5 times a week, 140lbs, regular yoga, zumba and meditation person. My TeloYear test said I am 80. The funny thing is even the recommendations, except fish twice a week, I already do everything. My BMI is on the lower side of the range. So I think this test is not accurate at all.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Mar 29, 2017

      Rebecca

      I can relate. I practice hot yoga, heat sculpt, lift weights and do aerobic dancing. I'm a vegetarian that never smoked or drank alcohol. I'm also an ex-marathon and ultra runner. At 75 years old, I don't look my age, but my results are of an 80-year-old, out of shape person. How inaccurate!

    • Apr 3, 2017

      Mark

      I'm 59 years old, I run two miles a day, do 1200 pound leg press, and supplements out the ying yang. I am always told that I look like I'm in my 40's, and I was so saddened to hear that I am 80 TeloYears. I have a blood panel every quarter just to see how things are going, not perfect, but I don't need to get "resting hills" on the phone to order my box. What a shame. W.C. Fields once said, "there's a sucker born every minute." TeloYears is banking on it.

    • Apr 18, 2017

      Bryn

      I am a 58-year-old female. I exercise daily, eat healthy, have a healthy BMI, don't smoke or drink. I have an active, healthy lifestyle with limited stress. My TeloYears test results showed 80 years old. I have longevity on both sides of my family with healthy parents and grandparents. I am relieved to find others here with similar findings. I believe it's likely to be inaccurate.

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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Inaccurate Results

    • Denver, CO,
    • Mar 27, 2017

    I received my analysis and it said my telomeres are the length of a 74 year old. I am 38, in great shape, no family history of illness, don't smoke, eat right and have no diseases.

    Either I am going to die in 5 years or these results are completely inaccurate. I will take the latter. Reminds me of the blood testing fiasco that happened with Theranos where most results were inaccurate. Save yourself the $89 dollars.

    I told them I thought these results were inaccurate and they simply sent me a canned response of how their "tests" are accurate and it occurs in a state of the art facility. Buy at your own risk.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 9 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Company is legitimate

    I believe the company is legitimate. I suspect it is not well managed since calls are not returned and they did not live up to their "window" (2-4 weeks) return. I did email when I was concerned about the lateness of the product and did get replies. My results were mailed 3/11/17 and I received them 3/16/17. (First class postage.) I would not classify this as a scam. I received everything I was promised. Granted, the cost was pretty steep ($89), but not as expensive as others selling the same product or as some medical tests I have had. The presentation of their product is first class in graphic design. The kit was well organized and the directions easy to follow. The graphics of the test results were impressive, as was the brochure explaining the results, colorful and all done on slick paper. Considering the postage (all first class), materials, employees, rent, light, and everything else it takes to run a business, Teloyears is spending some money.

    As for the test itself. Well, my friends all thought I was nuts to spend that much money, but I'm a curious person and I did suspect I would get something good out of it. And I did. I got a good laugh. The test revealed that my Teloyear age as 80, 7 years older than my actual age. I roared laughing when I saw that. I know people younger than I who have already had heart surgery, are on all kinds of meds, use canes and walkers getting around. I've had friends a year or two older than I who have died. I have not been diagnosed with any major or life threatening illnesses. I'm active, and work out. Unless people are lying, I've been told, at times I've had to reveal my age, that I looked younger. (Well, I do color my hair.)

    In conclusion, the results did indicate that I should be taking better care of myself and the brochure offered the usual suggestions: exercise, sleep avoid stress, eat vegetables and nuts. Nothing wrong or "scam" about that. However, I guess they told me what I already know, so I could have saved $89. Do I regret the expense? Yes. Do I feel cheated? No.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Mar 25, 2017

      Linda Solway

      I was interested and now relieved by your review, and I am not as concerned now since I got my TeloYears report back yesterday. Especially after eight weeks of waiting, two emails, and a phone inquiry about when I'd get my results back.

      Like you, I had a Telomere age of 80, that is nine years older than my chronological age. I'm always told that I look much younger than my age. I work out at the gym and take exercise classes. I have never been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness because I eat well, I'm not overweight, I still work, and I climb the stairs at my workplace many times a day. I was aghast when I saw the number 80 on my results! I am glad to know I'm not the only one. I plan to check these results with my doctor and get her take on this kind of testing.

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