Association between socioeconomic markers and adult telomere length differs according to sex: Pro-Saúde study

Braz J Med Biol Res. 2020 Oct 7;53(11):e10223. doi: 10.1590/1414-431X202010223. eCollection 2020.


Understanding the social determinants of telomere length is critical to evaluate the risk of early biological aging. We investigated sex differences on the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and demographic markers and leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in Brazilian adults. This cross-sectional study was conducted in a subsample (women=228; men=200) nested within the Pro-Saúde study, a prospective cohort study of university civil servants in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2012-2013). Adjusted multivariate models were used to test the relationship between SES markers (marital status, educational attainment, father's educational attainment, race/skin color, household income, and childhood experience of food deprivation) and LTL. After adjusting for age and potential health-related confounders, lower educational attainment was associated with shorter LTL among men (β=-0.05, 95% confidence interval (CI)=95%CI: -0.10, 0.00, P=0.03). In women, LTL was inversely associated with unmarried status (β=-0.05, 95%CI: -0.09, 0.00, P=0.03), lower father's educational attainment (β=-0.05, 95%CI: -0.13, 0.00, P=0.04), and childhood experience of food deprivation (β=-0.07, 95%CI: -0.13, 0.00, P=0.04). Our findings suggested that the association between SES markers and LTL differs according to sex. SES markers able to induce lifelong stress, reflected in LTL, appeared to be more related to individual factors in men, whereas in women they were family-related.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging
  • Brazil
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Telomere*