Leukocyte telomere length, breast cancer risk in the offspring: the relations with father's age at birth

Mech Ageing Dev. 2011 Apr;132(4):149-53. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2011.02.004. Epub 2011 Feb 25.


Recent studies have reported that leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is longer in offspring of older fathers. Longer telomeres might increase cancer risk. We examined the relation of father's age at the birth of the offspring (FAB) with LTL in the offspring in 2177 participants of the Family Heart Study and the probability of developing breast cancer in 1405 women from the Framingham Heart Study (offspring cohort). For each year of increase in FAB (adjusted for mother's age at birth), LTLs in the daughters and sons were longer by 19.4bp and 12.2bp, respectively (p<0.0001). Daughters of older fathers were less likely to stay free of breast cancer compared to daughters of younger fathers in empirical (p=0.014) and Cox regression analyses (p=0.0012) adjusted for relevant covariates. We conclude that older fathers endow their offspring with a longer LTL and their daughters with increased susceptibility to breast cancer. These independent observations cannot provide evidence for a causal relationship, mediated by telomere length, between FAB and increased breast cancer risk in daughters. However, with couples delaying having children in today's society, studies exploring the LTL association with increased breast cancer risk in daughters of older fathers might be timely and relevant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / ultrastructure*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paternal Age
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk
  • Telomere / ultrastructure*

Grant support