Background: Telomere length (TL) is a marker of biological age that may be affected by dietary factors through oxidation and inflammation mechanisms. In addition, ultra-processed food (UPF) consumption has increased worldwide and it has been associated with the risk of developing several diseases.
Objectives: We aimed to evaluate the association between UPF consumption and the risk of having short telomeres in an elderly population of the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) Project.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional study of 886 participants (645 men and 241 women) aged 57-91 y recruited from the SUN Project (Spain, 1999-2018). TL was measured from saliva samples by real-time qPCR at baseline and UPF consumption was collected using a validated 136-item FFQ and classified according to the NOVA system. We evaluated the association between consumption of energy-adjusted UPF categorized into quartiles (low, medium-low, medium-high, and high consumption) and the risk of having short telomeres (<20th percentile) using logistic regression models.
Results: Those participants with the highest UPF consumption had almost twice the odds of having short telomeres compared with those with the lowest consumption (adjusted OR: 1.82; 95% CI: 1.05, 3.22; P-trend = 0.03).
Conclusions: A higher consumption of UPF (>3 servings/d) was associated with higher risk of having shorter telomeres in an elderly Spanish population of the SUN Project.This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02669602.
Keywords: SUN cohort; cross-sectional studies; diet; telomere length; ultra-processed food.
Copyright © The Author(s) on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition 2020.