Nonsupportive parenting affects telomere length in young adulthood among African Americans: mediation through substance use

J Fam Psychol. 2014 Dec;28(6):967-72. doi: 10.1037/fam0000039.


Telomere length (TL) is an indicator of age-related changes at the cellular level associated with heightened mortality risk. The effect of nonsupportive parenting (NSP) during late adolescence and young adulthood on TL 5 years later was examined in a sample of N = 183 young adult African Americans to determine if effects of NSP on TL were mediated by substance use. Results indicated that the effect of caregiver reported NSP on diminished TL was mediated by escalation of drinking and smoking in young adulthood, even after controlling effects of socioeconomic status risk, gender, BMI, young adult stress, and intervention status. Results suggest that prevention of NSP may influence later physical health consequences by influencing substance use trajectory.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / genetics*
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / genetics
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Social Support*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / genetics
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Telomere Shortening / genetics*
  • Young Adult