Background: telomere length has been used to represent biological ageing and is found to be associated with various physiological, psychological and social factors.
Objective: to explore the effects of income and marriage on leucocyte telomere length in a representative sample of older adults.
Design and subjects: cross-sectional analysis among 298 adults, aged 65-74, randomly selected from the community by census.
Methods: telomere length was measured by quantitative PCR. Participants provided information on sociodemographics, physical illness and completed questionnaires rating mental state and perceived neighbourhood experience.
Results: telomere length was negatively associated with lower income [coefficient -0.141 (95% CI: -0.244 to -0.020), P = 0.021] and positively associated with the marital status [coefficient 0.111 (95% CI: -0.008 to 0.234), P = 0.067] when controlling for gender, age, educational level, physical diseases (including diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, cerebrovascular disease and Parkinson's disease), depressive symptoms, minor mental symptoms, cognitive impairment and perceived neighbourhood experience (including social support, perceived security and public facilities).
Conclusions: these results indicate that older adults with higher income or being married have longer telomeres when other sociodemographics, physical diseases, mental status and neighbourhood experience are adjusted.