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Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 5;9(1):1404. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-38904-0.

Alcohol consumption and leukocyte telomere length.

Author information

1
Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.
2
Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California, USA.
3
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.
4
Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.
5
Group Health Research Institute, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, Washington, USA.
6
Department of Global Health and Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.
7
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.
8
Center for Health and Community, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.
9
Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
10
Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA. marcusg@medicine.ucsf.edu.

Abstract

The relationship between alcohol consumption and mortality generally exhibits a U-shaped curve. The longevity observed with moderate alcohol consumption may be explained by other confounding factors, and, if such a relationship is present, the mechanism is not well understood. Indeed, the optimal amount of alcohol consumption for health has yet to be determined. Leukocyte telomere length is an emerging quantifiable marker of biological age and health, and a shorter telomere length is a predictor of increased mortality. Because leukocyte telomere length is a quantifiable and objectively measurable biomarker of aging, we sought to identify the amount of alcohol consumption associated with the longest telomere length and least telomere length attrition. Among over 2,000 participants from two distinct cohort studies, we found no pattern of alcohol consumption that was associated with longer telomere length or less telomere length attrition over time. Binge drinking may reduce telomere length. Using telomere length as a marker of age and health, these data fail to demonstrate any benefits of alcohol consumption, even when consumed in moderation.

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