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, 9 (1), 1404

Alcohol Consumption and Leukocyte Telomere Length

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Alcohol Consumption and Leukocyte Telomere Length

Shalini Dixit et al. Sci Rep.

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.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no competing interests.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Scatter plots of weekly alcohol consumption and telomere length. Panel A shows average number of drinks per week versus baseline telomere length in the Cardiovascular Health Study (grey, n = 1673) and Heart and Soul (black, n = 948). Panel B shows average number of drinks per week versus 5-year change in telomere length (adjusted for baseline telomere length) among Heart and Soul participants with follow-up data (n = 606).
Figure 2
Figure 2
Associations of binge drinking (black square) and ideal drinking (white square) with baseline telomere length. See methods for classification of binge and ideal drinking. Y error bars denote 95% confidence intervals.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Associations of binge drinking (black square) and ideal drinking (white square) with change in telomere length in Heart and Soul. See methods for classification of binge and ideal drinking; comparison group for each analysis is non-binge drinkers and non-ideal drinkers, respectively. Change in telomere length is adjusted for baseline telomere length. Y error bars denote 95% confidence intervals.

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