Is socioeconomic status associated with biological aging as measured by telomere length?

Robertson, T., Batty, G.S., Der, G. , Fenton, C. , Shiels, P.G. and Benzeval, M. (2013) Is socioeconomic status associated with biological aging as measured by telomere length? Epidemiologic Reviews, 35(1), pp. 98-111. (doi:10.1093/epirev/mxs001)

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Abstract

It has been hypothesized that one way in which lower socioeconomic status (SES) affects health is by increasing the rate of biological aging. A widely used marker of biological aging is telomere length. Telomeres are structures at the ends of chromosomes that erode with increasing cell proliferation and genetic damage. We aimed to identify, through systematic review and meta-analysis, whether lower SES (greater deprivation) is associated with shorter telomeres. Thirty-one articles, including 29 study populations, were identified. We conducted 3 meta-analyses to compare the telomere lengths of persons of high and low SES with regard to contemporaneous SES (12 study populations from 10 individual articles), education (15 study populations from 14 articles), and childhood SES (2 study populations from 2 articles). For education, there was a significant difference in telomere length between persons of high and low SES in a random-effects model (standardized mean difference (SMD) = 0.060, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.002, 0.118; P = 0.042), although a range of sensitivity analyses weakened this association. There was no evidence for an association between telomere length and contemporaneous SES (SMD = 0.104, 95% CI: −0.027, 0.236; P = 0.119) or childhood SES (SMD = −0.037, 95% CI: −0.143, 0.069; P = 0.491). These results suggest weak evidence for an association between SES (as measured by education) and biological aging (as measured by telomere length), although there was a lack of consistent findings across the SES measures investigated here.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Der, Mr Geoffrey and Benzeval, Dr Michaela and Robertson, Dr Anthony and Shiels, Professor Paul and Batty, Dr G and Fenton, Ms Candida
Authors: Robertson, T., Batty, G.S., Der, G., Fenton, C., Shiels, P.G., and Benzeval, M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Cancer Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Epidemiologic Reviews
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0193-936X
ISSN (Online):1478-6729
Published Online:20 December 2012
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 The Authors
First Published:First published in Epidemiologic Reviews 35(1):98-111
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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