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Stress Health. 2016 Oct;32(4):313-319. doi: 10.1002/smi.2607. Epub 2014 Nov 13.

The Relationship Between Perceived Stress and Telomere Length: A Meta-analysis.

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University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia.
University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia.


Telomeres protect the ends of chromosomes, and short telomere length is associated with poor health and mortality. This study reports a meta-analytic investigation of the relationship between perceived stress and telomere length, including results from eight studies with a total of 1143 participants. A meta-analytic effect size of r = -0.25, p < 0.001, indicated that higher levels of perceived stress were associated with shorter telomere length. Examination of the studies for moderators of effect size identified some significant moderators, such as a difference in effect sizes between samples comprised of only women and mixed-sex samples. These results are only suggestive as they are based on a small set of studies, and funnel plot analyses indicated a publication bias. A significant relationship between more perceived stress and shorter telomere length is consistent with theoretical frameworks positing that stress induces physiological changes that result in shortened telomeres.


meta-analysis; perceived stress; telomere length

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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