Is telomere length socially patterned? Evidence from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 study

Robertson, T., Batty, G.D., Der, G. , Green, M.J. , McGlynn, L.M., McIntyre, A., Shiels, P.G. and Benzeval, M. (2012) Is telomere length socially patterned? Evidence from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 study. PLoS ONE, 7(7), e41805. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041805) (PMID:22844525) (PMCID:PMC3402400)

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Abstract

Lower socioeconomic status (SES) is strongly associated with an increased risk of morbidity and premature mortality, but it is not known if the same is true for telomere length, a marker often used to assess biological ageing. The West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study was used to investigate this and consists of three cohorts aged approximately 35 (N = 775), 55 (N = 866) and 75 years (N = 544) at the time of telomere length measurement. Four sets of measurements of SES were investigated: those collected contemporaneously with telomere length assessment, educational markers, SES in childhood and SES over the preceding twenty years. We found mixed evidence for an association between SES and telomere length. In 35-year-olds, many of the education and childhood SES measures were associated with telomere length, i.e. those in poorer circumstances had shorter telomeres, as was intergenerational social mobility, but not accumulated disadvantage. A crude estimate showed that, at the same chronological age, social renters, for example, were nine years (biologically) older than home owners. No consistent associations were apparent in those aged 55 or 75. There is evidence of an association between SES and telomere length, but only in younger adults and most strongly using education and childhood SES measures. These results may reflect that childhood is a sensitive period for telomere attrition. The cohort differences are possibly the result of survival bias suppressing the SES-telomere association; cohort effects with regard different experiences of SES; or telomere possibly being a less effective marker of biological ageing at older ages.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Der, Mr Geoffrey and Green, Dr Michael and Benzeval, Dr Michaela and Robertson, Dr Anthony and Macintyre, Mr Alan and Shiels, Professor Paul and McGlynn, Dr Liane and Batty, Dr G
Authors: Robertson, T., Batty, G.D., Der, G., Green, M.J., McGlynn, L.M., McIntyre, A., Shiels, P.G., and Benzeval, M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Cancer Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN:1932-6203
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Published Online:23 July 2012
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 The Authors
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 7(7):e41805
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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