What is TeloYears?

By Derek Lakin
Published on: Feb 24, 2017

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.

If you’re looking to make a fully empowered decision, you now have a core understanding of how TeloYears works.

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.

Read 44 TeloYears Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Customer Rating: 2.5
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 12 4 star: 3 3 star: 2 2 star: 5 1 star:  22
Bottom Line: 32% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 44
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  • Late

    • By Sam I.,
    • Colorado,
    • Aug 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Customer service is very weak. The first time I tried to contact them it took 2 tries to get a response. Second time, well, still haven't heard back. Estimated dates of completion for tests are WEEKS off...not happy.

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

  • Getting results

    • By Charles Z.,
    • Arizona,
    • May 9, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Having difficulty receiving results as the questions asked prior to receiving results would not allow me to get my results. Called and wrote online numerous times and never received a response. Very disappointed in customer service!

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

  • Test results are impossible

    • By Mark Z.,
    • Milwaukee, WI,
    • Jan 27, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I am joining the chorus of skeptical patrons. I am 61. My TeloYears test came back 71. I scored in the lowest decile. I did not expect to be in the highest decile, but this result can’t be accurate. I have always eaten a very good diet. I have always exercised and kept moving. My weight is perfect: 6’1, 170-175 lbs. My medical numbers - cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, PSA, are all good. I take no medications and I am not under any stress.

    Second point: I question the truthfulness of Ashley’s review dated 5/30/2017. She claims to look at least “25 years younger than her age.” That is probably not true for any human being. But, if it were true, Ashley would have to be at least older middle aged. I can tell you that no one born in the 1960’s or before was named “Ashley.”

    Also, she says she is a scientist. Yea, right.

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

  • Don't waste your time

    • By Jonna D.,
    • Denver, CO,
    • Oct 9, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    This was by far the biggest waste of time and money. I was requested to resubmit my sample on multiple occasions and in the end just asked for a refund, never got my results. Don't use this company!

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

  • Hopeless customer service

    • By Regina V.,
    • Maryland,
    • Sep 14, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I don't recommend. I bought Advanced Ancestry as a birthday gift (!). I was told it takes 6-8 weeks. After 6 weeks no follow up from the company. When I wrote to them, I was told in condescending tone that they notified me initially about 6-8 week processing time. Ok, after week 8 I have to follow up again (no communication from Teloyears!). Now I receive an email saying that their lab is too busy, and they don't even tell me when the results will come (birthday gift, mind you!).

    Ok, after week 10 still nothing from them, and not even a courtesy email. So we lost patience and requested a refund. And the funniest thing is, they deducted $20 (!) of shipment cost, when it was clearly their fault - why accept so many orders if your lab cannot process them in the time that you guarantee? When I sent an inquiry, they simply ignored my email.

    Never again, and I don't recommend to others. There are so many companies these days who offer DNA testing, I'll definitely go to someone else.

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

  • Interesting technology, unhappy about my results

    • By Gabriel J.,
    • Redwood City, CA,
    • Aug 14, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    So I got my telomere length tested through this company about a year ago, and to my surprise, I am biologically much older (20-year difference). I would be very interested to see the percent of individuals who get results back that match their chronological age because that's how we might be able to determine if this is a scam by comparing that data to research. Telomere length is strongly correlated with chronological age from what I understand, and it's the best metric we have to estimate the chronological age of an individual in a population (if you knew nothing about that individual other than their telomere length).

    My father had a "random" type of Alzheimer's that lead to his recent death at 65. My hunch is that his telomeres may have been in a similar situation to mine. (I am communicating with the doctor who did the autopsy at OHSU to see if he can look into telomere length of my fathers autopsied cells, fingers crossed!) He may have been 65 chronologically, but biologically he might have been over 85.

    Getting this test done on myself has made me focus more on my health, stress levels, and well-being in general. If this service is a scam, it's a scam that has pushed me to try fasting, alternative diets and workouts, and activities that lower my day to day stress levels.

    I trust this test and the research behind telomere length to use it as a metric in my health improvement endeavors.

    My review ends here. If you are interested in reading, below are some of the things I have found work the best for my mental and physical health thus far.

    Right now I am re-testing blood fats and telomere length while on a strict, <15% saturated fat keto diet with 1/3 of any given month spent fasting (five day water and coffee fast followed by a 10-day eating window with no calorie deficit in place) to achieve a ~30-33% calorie deficit over a month. I include the fast to 1.) generate new cells (hopefully), and 2.) to allow time for LDL clearance from my blood (I also have high LDL). I took my baseline blood fats (cardio IQ from Quest), Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and folate this past Monday, and I am retesting in three months to see if fasting is affecting my telomere length at all.

    After the three months is up, I am going to start taking a telomere lengthening supplement (it's a total scam material, micronized cycloastragenol from an anti-aging expert), and then retest again after another three months. I'll keep doing this until I find something that helps increase my telomere length! I'll keep varying diet, exercise, fasting periods, and supplements after my six months is up until I see some results.

    Again, if TeloYears is a scam, it has pushed me to make some radical changes in my health care strategy.

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

  • Stay away - this is a scam

    My opinion after dealing with this company is that they are out to make money off their telomere related testing, products and services. They are drawing in clients with their "advanced ancestry" claims, which they fail to deliver on.

    I ordered the dual test, sent in my sample promptly, and got the notice it was received within a couple of days. After 3 weeks, I was notified that my telomere results were in the mail, and my ancestry results would be ready in a few more weeks.

    Telomere results showed 20+ years greater than my physical age, but the good news was that they could market me all sorts of ways to get healthier, then sell me a repeat test to see how it was going. No thanks.

    I waited for ancestry results, as I was really interested to see how much more detailed and accurate they may be over the other 2 services I used. And waited. And waited. Finally contacted the company, got a blow-off email about the lab "running behind", but I should have my results within a week. 2 weeks later, I contacted them again. Another response saying the lab was overloaded. Twice more I was shrugged off. Over 4 months after sending in my sample, I received an email saying they were unable to process my sample, but would be happy to send me another kit.

    Are you kidding me? Nope, not even going to go there. They also claim they have refunded $70, but I haven't seen a refund. Like one other responder stated - how can they say their telomere results are accurate, but be unable to process ancestry? Not to mention, they have been deceptive about the entire situation.

    But they are more than happy to take more money from me to help me get better age testing results.

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

  • I think it’s reliable

    • By Maggie R.,
    • Atlanta, GA,
    • Jul 9, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I got my results and at 52 I have telomeres typical of a 36-year-old and am in the top 3% for my age. I was concerned they were fake results, to flatter recipients, but based on the reviews here that is not the case. I have been a vegetarian since I was 11 years old and vegan as much as possible, at least 80% of the time for the last 10 years. Excercise in phases (some years super athletic, but I tend to skip the gym for weeks at a time). No smoking and moderatel drinking.

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

  • Updated review


    • By Vic K.,
    • Connecticut,
    • Jun 27, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had added a similar review on their TeloYears website. I saw it published and it was there for maybe two weeks, and then it disappeared. So they can keep their rating reviews at above 4 stars.

    So this company is based on falsehood and hyped-up reviews. STAY AWAY from this company!

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

    • Previous review
    • May 27, 2018

    Seems like a SCAM.

    I had bought the package TeloYears + advanced ancestry. Paid $169.

    I got the results for my TeloYears after a few weeks, and the results seemed to be way off. I am 51 and it said I was 64.

    In the meantime, 8-9 weeks go by, and there is no info on the Ancestry results part of the testing. I called them up and asked for an update, and the person on the phone had no info at all and said will send me an email soon.

    After three days they send an email that the samples were no good and they need another sample. I was not happy and how they were irresponsible and not service oriented and asked for a full refund.

    If the samples were no good for one test then how come it was good for the one they sent me the results for - TeloYears. How do I trust this TeloYears result and the company?

    I also talked to a “TeloCoach” to understand the TeloYears results, and all I got, in the end, was "you can test again after following a healthy lifestyle," which I already was following for several months before the sample draw. This seemed like a scare you and get more testing money (repeatedly) out of you tactic.

    STAY AWAY from this company! This seems like a well-operated scam, based on the fear created by false reports to scare you and then get repeat orders for getting better results.

    They refunded only $70, and I have written an email to send me the full refund (as the samples were bad for both results, how can they charge me for the TeloYears test).

    I want my FULL $169 refunded!

    (read moreread less...)

  • Bogus telomere result. Never received ancestry DNA results.

    I'm a 45-year-old woman in good health. No major illnesses. I exercise every day and eat mostly organic whole foods. I don't drink or smoke or use any kind of drugs. According to the results of this test, I'm like a 54-year-old. I call BS! I also ordered ancestry DNA, but after waiting for months, I haven't received the results! I've been messaging with an anonymous customer service rep who says the lab is running behind schedule. Ridiculous! Terrible company.

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

  • Could not believe it. Age 59 TeloYears - 20 age.

    When I had my telomeres tested, I was 59. Everybody says they look 20 years younger, but I actually do.

    I have been working out since I was 15 from 4- 5 times a week. Weights and cardio. My diet is mostly chicken and vegetables and fruits. I try and lead a stress-less life as much as possible.

    Combine that with good genetics, my telo year age is 20!

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

Showing 1-11 of 44

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