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Age Ageing. 2011 Jan;40(1):73-8. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afq118. Epub 2010 Sep 4.

Leukocyte telomere length and marital status among middle-aged adults.

Author information

1
Medical University of South Carolina, Family Medicine, Charleston, SC 29425, USA. mainouag@musc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

being unmarried is associated with worse health and increased mortality risk. Telomere length has emerged as a marker for biological ageing but it is unclear how telomere length relates to marital status.

OBJECTIVE:

to examine the relationship between telomere length and marital status in a sample of middle-aged adults.

DESIGN AND SUBJECTS:

cross-sectional analysis among 321 adults aged 40-64 years.

METHODS:

telomere length was measured by PCR (T/S ratio). Participants provided information on healthy lifestyle activities including smoking, alcohol use, diet, exercise, obesity as well as social support.

RESULTS:

participants married or living with a partner had a mean T/S ratio of 1.70 and those widowed, divorced, separated or never married had a mean T/S ratio of 1.58 in a model adjusted for age, gender and race/ethnicity (P < 0.001). When the analysis was further adjusted for diet, alcohol consumption, exercise, smoking, social support, poverty and obesity, persons married or living with a partner had a higher mean T/S ratio of 1.69 than their unmarried counterparts (1.59) (P = 0.004).

CONCLUSIONS:

these results indicate that unmarried individuals have shorter telomeres. This relationship between marital status and telomere length is independent of presumed benefits of marriage such as social support and a healthier lifestyle.

PMID:
20817935
PMCID:
PMC3000178
DOI:
10.1093/ageing/afq118
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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