TeloYears Review – Is it a scam 2019?

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TeloYears; Counting the Rings on the Human Tree.

There’s a lot of questions to unpack when you first look through the website for Telomere Diagnostics, the company that provides the DNA testing and TeloYears service. The vital information for the test itself, every procedure, and the core reasoning behind its existence are all front and prest--once you find them. But the very concept involves some pretty high science for the casual consumer, and despite the asking price and seemingly extensive testing measures, it’s the flat science that Telomere skimps on.

The Basics

The human genome is a complicated thing, an iterative woven chain of genetic material responsible for 100% of our basic body’s structure, from the design on up. For everything after that, well, that’s on you. This period of wear and tear--often called “life” by its users--can cause the generally expected suite of cellular damage and replacement, where your cells divide and regrow anew at different rates and under different conditions. On each chromosomal strand in your body is something called a telomere, a sort of protective cap that seals the strand on either end, with a set length and composition. Each time that cell divides, the telomere gets a bit shorter, putting a sort of “lifespan” on the survival of the cell system as a whole.

The science behind it all is many, many years in the making, and it’s something human beings are still feeling around with. The past decade alone has seen telomere testing on various groups for general research purposes, such as athletes, soldiers, astronauts, and even survivors of trauma, up to and including children. While the length of the average telomere can indicate the general lifespan of a person, with measured average loss rates and expected adjustments that can be anticipated, it’s... not exact. There’s research into casting out more exact “due dates” and maybe even repairing telomeres to add a little more expectancy onto the end of one’s allotted time, but it’s all in the concept or early testing phases at best.

That said, the science of studying them has come quite far, and Telomere Diagnostics, as one might expect, has been an industry leader in the field for some time. While the actual measuring can’t be exact, there’s an extensive database of averages and curves depicting the expected levels of telomere length for all age groups, ethnicities, levels of activity, and more, which can be used to map a general idea of where you fall. In theory, those with telomeres shorter than desired can be considered on a less healthy track, and vice versa for those with longer than the average, which can generally indicate less cell division or damage between generation of mitosis.

Now, on its own, this isn’t a very reliable method, which is why the overall DNA super sample is required for a complete test. TeloYears not only gauge the length of your DNA’s telomeres but maps out your general level of health, looking into multiple other areas for things of interest. These can include your activity level, eating habits and cholesterol level, the presence of some disorders, and so on. The exact field of possible effects on telomere length is still not entirely known, but hundreds and hundreds of contributing factors are far from guesswork. The final test results provided by TeloYears will be a sum of all of these factors, including the length of your telomeres, to provide a “Cell Age”, used in reference to your actual age to allow them to provide advice and possibly a living plan for improvement throughout the service.

It’s that simple.

The Product

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The standard TeloYears package comes in a few varieties. At the basic level, a single test will cost you upwards of nearly $100, around the industry standard--especially considering the uncommon choice to accept only blood samples from prospective clients. You’ll also be able to get a couple of these at a discounted rate, allowing new or less dedicated customers to adjust their life over the general length of the TeloYears service and test a second time, or to share. However, this is far from the optimal method, as TeloYears is pretty intent to sell you on their subscription service, for a recurring fee.

The monthly plan is a flat $20 every month, $240 a year, a fair margin over the reduced rate of two standard tests alone. For this price, you get those same two tests, sent out like clockwork every six months for you to update, allowing you to set goals and a health plan to follow over your subscription duration. They’ll also throw in a monthly supplement for “free”, a concoction made at the labs themselves filled to the brim with vitamins and other helpful natural ingredients, such as antioxidants, that are stated to help preserve the life and structural integrity of your telomeres, and they promise to test the results as well. Themselves. The supplement typically costs $60 for a month, so they seem to value it highly, but the details on it are less than expansive.

Aside from all that, it should also be mentioned that the subscription includes a one-time ancestry test, to be sent out with your first shipment, again “free” with your contractual registration to a minimum of a one-year plan. This test is provided separately as well, at the same $100 price tag as the standard DNA and telomere testing regimen, with options for extending your purchase and buying more at one time, as usual. It has to be said that the DNA testing and ancestry business has taken off in recent years, so it’s no surprise a company with access to customer genetics and the means to test them would venture into this area, but this, too, isn’t without its problems. But first things first.

Once you place your order, everything is shipped out relatively quickly, and it all comes together in an easy to use, readily labelled set of kits with everything you need included inside. The test itself, as mentioned above, is a blood test, with a built-in needle applicator and sealable return parcel. Like the website itself, it comes with some information on telomere testing and the age of cell data the company provides, much of it simplified and aimed at explaining the basics to customers without much raw data. The included graphics in both cases, however, are rather handy as visual aids for the whole thing.

Once sent out, the testing and return process takes several weeks, as many as eight in total according to the company, though some customers have occasionally given them longer times for the return. Once your results are up, assuming you are a subscribing member of the monthly plan, you’ll have access to all of the health information and tools you’ll need to change your life for the better and get your cellular age down, if all goes according to plan.

The constant updates are a nice plus, though the price is steep for seemingly minimal extras. Anyone who is truly worried about their health could normally get by with just the two yearly tests, especially with the price discounted even further, but the lure of the full ancestry test and the monthly supplement may be too good to pass up for some, despite the substantial extra cost.

The Reception

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Overall, the service has a lot of pros going for it, from the high-marks of the administration to the cut-and-dry science backed by decades of research. However, that’s unfortunately not all there is to see here. First and foremost, TeloYears seems to have been founded by a committee of leaders in science and medicine, specifically those researching telomeres. The chief of these is named on the website itself as Dr Elizabeth Blackburn, the 2009 Nobel Prize Laureate in the field of Medicine, which was specifically awarded for her significant strides in telomere research and health-related studies therein. The match sounds perfect, but her name has to be sought out amid the clutter of scientific information on the company’s front page, with no other names given and no sign of Dr Blackburn’s current involvement anywhere on the website. Regardless, the science is still backed by a lab somewhere, but it would be nice to have such a heavily awarded and respected expert in the field promoting the site or in any of its videos.

More, the testing itself seems an odd match for the depth of research needed for telomere study. The blood test, for example; this isn’t a prevalent method of testing since the common swab samples used in the industry tend to be much quicker and easier to perform, and far less intimidating, especially for those with a phobia of needles or especially blood. The distinction is understandable since the method seems to include a general health test, but the pertinent data should be readily available in either form.

However, the entire company’s slant is a bit outside the norm. Assuming the testing is above-board, the addition of an internal supplement distribution chain and a potentially uncertified ancestry test can give consumers pause. The supplements include basic nutritional value and vague lists of ingredients at the vitamin level, sparing further details, and the pills themselves have no warnings and are notably not backed or approved by the Food & Drug Administration, though they also haven’t shut the site down or anything.

Equally troubling is the ancestry test, which relies on an unspecified and quite large database of DNA samples and is, strangely enough, all handled externally by an outside laboratory. TeloYears requires your permission to ship your sample to the lab and for them to use it, which is at least comforting, but there’s no information to be readily found on the lab or how they got their samples, which could be worrying if the samples came from other customers. Or if TeloYears is dealing with one of its competitors and providing your sample for their own information, which could be a sticking point for many potential consumers, though many wouldn’t be bothered at all either way.

Regardless, while TeloYears is seemingly the attractive, fresh face of a laboratory run by a Nobel Prize Laureate and backed by cutting-edge science. The most jarring realization of all is that the company seems to simply be an advanced health guru-esque peddler of wares, marketing out tests that cover the wide range of DNA, lifespan, and health concerns all the way to a full exploration of a customer’s ancestry and expensive in-house supplements with unknown conditions for manufacture and origin. The fact that your only method of testing the results this supplement claims to provide is by future tests TeloYears themselves provide from the ground up is worrying.

The concerns are probably for nothing; business is a business, and it needs to run. While the product line seems set up to encourage most would-be buyers to double-down on the monthly plan with the most features at the best cost, the package is cost-effective for those who want everything it gives you. The idea that TeloYears generates the concern for your own health and what would seem to be its effective fix is worrying, but it’s nothing that a few up-to-date videos of Dr Blackburn would ease, and the number of positive reviews--while again, curated and maintained entirely by TeloYears--goes some way towards ensuring the reliability and useability of the service.

Final Word

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So, is it worth the price?

That depends. In the coming years, it may be that the measuring and monitoring of telomere health is the end-all for modern medicine, and all of Dr Blackburn’s work in analyzing the conditions and causes for shorter telomeres may end up creating entirely new branches of patient tracking, and advances in treatment we can’t imagine right now.

However, in that same right now moment, it seems to be a relatively shallow study used to help detect a blanket plethora of conditions caused by everyday living, most of which a customer could themselves already be aware of. If this were a free science, a grand study, or itself an optional extra on a traditional, more well-known DNA testing or ancestry test, it would be easier to accept. But, for all the high marks the Telomere Diagnostics group has received, the deal feels too good to be true, like a solid and reputable test designed to inform and document the chromosomal telomeres of customers while sustaining itself through potentially reliable supplements many of its customers will conveniently find out they need after testing.

I don’t feel like TeloYears is a scam, nor do I feel like it would be a waste of money--on the contrary, it may be an organization worth supporting, and if its Nobel Prize legacy and mostly glowing reviews are anything to go by, then there are far worse choices out there. But on the surface, the company seems like a one-stop-shop for all your supply and the demand needed to get it to sell, all wrapped up in science beyond the needs of most consumers. If you fall into the fold that do require the health studies provided, or if you have a keen interest in getting your telomere health checked, then look no further.

Overall Score:
6.8/10 - A solid building on a shaky foundation

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