Telomere Length Among Older U.S. Adults: Differences by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Age

Publication Abstract

Brown, Lauren L., Belinda L. Needham, and Jennifer Ailshire. 2017. "Telomere Length Among Older U.S. Adults: Differences by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Age." Journal of Aging and Health, 29(8): 1350-1366.

Objective: We examine race/ethnic, gender, and age differences in telomere length (TL) within a diverse, nationally representative sample of older adults. Method: Data come from 5,228 White, Black, and Hispanic respondents aged 54+ in the 2008 Health and Retirement Study. TL was assayed from saliva using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) by comparing telomere sequence copy number with a single gene copy number (T/S ratio). Linear regression was used to examine TL by race/ethnicity, gender, and age adjusting for social, economic, and health characteristics. Results: Women had longer TL than men (p < .05). Blacks (p < .05) and Hispanics (p < .10) had longer TL than Whites. Black women and men had the longest TL relative to other groups (p < .05), while White men had the shortest TL (p < .05). Black women and Hispanic men showed greater differences in TL with age. Discussion: Findings indicate social patterns in TL by race/ethnicity, gender, and age among older adults do not reflect differences observed in most population health outcomes.


PMCID: PMC5272874. (Pub Med Central)

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