We studied the associations of leukocyte telomere length (LTL) with all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality in 12,199 adults participating in 2 population-based prospective cohort studies from Europe (ESTHER) and the United States (Nurses' Health Study). Blood samples were collected in 1989-1990 (Nurses' Health Study) and 2000-2002 (ESTHER). LTL was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. We calculated z scores for LTL to standardize LTL measurements across the cohorts. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to calculate relative mortality according to continuous levels and quintiles of LTL z scores. The hazard ratios obtained from each cohort were subsequently pooled by meta-analysis. Overall, 2,882 deaths were recorded during follow-up (Nurses' Health Study, 1989-2010; ESTHER, 2000-2015). LTL was inversely associated with age in both cohorts. After adjustment for age, a significant inverse trend of LTL with all-cause mortality was observed in both cohorts. In random-effects meta-analysis, age-adjusted hazard ratios for the shortest LTL quintile compared with the longest were 1.23 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04, 1.46) for all-cause mortality, 1.29 (95% CI: 0.83, 2.00) for cardiovascular mortality, and 1.10 (95% CI: 0.88, 1.37) for cancer mortality. In this study population with an age range of 43-75 years, we corroborated previous evidence suggesting that LTL predicts all-cause mortality beyond its association with age.
Keywords: aging; all-cause mortality; cancer mortality; cardiovascular disease mortality; cohort studies; leukocytes; telomere length.
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