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Smoking does not accelerate leucocyte telomere attrition: A meta-analysis of 18 longitudinal cohorts

Smoking does not accelerate leucocyte telomere attrition: A meta-analysis of 18 longitudinal cohorts
Smoking does not accelerate leucocyte telomere attrition: A meta-analysis of 18 longitudinal cohorts

Smoking is associated with shorter leucocyte telomere length (LTL), a biomarker of increased morbidity and reduced longevity. This association is widely interpreted as evidence that smoking causes accelerated LTL attrition in adulthood, but the evidence for this is inconsistent. We analysed the association between smoking and LTL dynamics in 18 longitudinal cohorts. The dataset included data from 12 579 adults (4678 current smokers and 7901 non-smokers) over a mean follow-up interval of 8.6 years. Meta-analysis confirmed a cross-sectional difference in LTL between smokers and non-smokers, with mean LTL 84.61 bp shorter in smokers (95% CI: 22.62 to 146.61). However, LTL attrition was only 0.51 bp yr-1 faster in smokers than in non-smokers (95% CI: -2.09 to 1.08), a difference that equates to only 1.32% of the estimated age-related loss of 38.33 bp yr-1. Assuming a linear effect of smoking, 167 years of smoking would be required to generate the observed cross-sectional difference in LTL. Therefore, the difference in LTL between smokers and non-smokers is extremely unlikely to be explained by a linear, causal effect of smoking. Selective adoption, whereby individuals with short telomeres are more likely to start smoking, needs to be considered as a more plausible explanation for the observed pattern of telomere dynamics.

Biological age, Longitudinal, Smoking, Telomere attrition, Telomere length
2054-5703
Bateson, Melissa
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Aviv, Abraham
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Bendix, Laila
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Benetos, Athanase
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Ben-Shlomo, Yoav
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Bojesen, Stig E.
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Cooper, Cyrus
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Cooper, Rachel
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Deary, Ian J.
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Hägg, Sara
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Harris, Sarah E.
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Kark, Jeremy D.
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Kronenberg, Florian
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Kuh, Diana
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Labat, Carlos
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Martin-Ruiz, Carmen M.
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Meyer, Craig
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Nordestgaard, Børge G.
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Penninx, Brenda W.J.H.
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Pepper, Gillian V.
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Révész, Dóra
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Said, M. Abdullah
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Starr, John M.
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Syddall, Holly
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Thomson, William Murray
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Van Der Harst, Pim
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Whooley, Mary
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Von Zglinicki, Thomas
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Willeit, Peter
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Zhan, Yiqiang
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Nettle, Daniel
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Bateson, Melissa
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Aviv, Abraham
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Bendix, Laila
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Benetos, Athanase
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Ben-Shlomo, Yoav
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Bojesen, Stig E.
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Cooper, Cyrus
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Cooper, Rachel
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Deary, Ian J.
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Hägg, Sara
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Harris, Sarah E.
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Kark, Jeremy D.
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Kronenberg, Florian
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Kuh, Diana
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Labat, Carlos
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Martin-Ruiz, Carmen M.
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Meyer, Craig
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Nordestgaard, Børge G.
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Penninx, Brenda W.J.H.
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Pepper, Gillian V.
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Révész, Dóra
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Said, M. Abdullah
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Starr, John M.
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Syddall, Holly
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Thomson, William Murray
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Van Der Harst, Pim
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Whooley, Mary
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Von Zglinicki, Thomas
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Willeit, Peter
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Zhan, Yiqiang
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Nettle, Daniel
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Bateson, Melissa, Aviv, Abraham, Bendix, Laila, Benetos, Athanase, Ben-Shlomo, Yoav, Bojesen, Stig E., Cooper, Cyrus, Cooper, Rachel, Deary, Ian J., Hägg, Sara, Harris, Sarah E., Kark, Jeremy D., Kronenberg, Florian, Kuh, Diana, Labat, Carlos, Martin-Ruiz, Carmen M., Meyer, Craig, Nordestgaard, Børge G., Penninx, Brenda W.J.H., Pepper, Gillian V., Révész, Dóra, Said, M. Abdullah, Starr, John M., Syddall, Holly, Thomson, William Murray, Van Der Harst, Pim, Whooley, Mary, Von Zglinicki, Thomas, Willeit, Peter, Zhan, Yiqiang and Nettle, Daniel (2019) Smoking does not accelerate leucocyte telomere attrition: A meta-analysis of 18 longitudinal cohorts. Royal Society Open Science, 6 (6), [190420]. (doi:10.1098/rsos.190420).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Smoking is associated with shorter leucocyte telomere length (LTL), a biomarker of increased morbidity and reduced longevity. This association is widely interpreted as evidence that smoking causes accelerated LTL attrition in adulthood, but the evidence for this is inconsistent. We analysed the association between smoking and LTL dynamics in 18 longitudinal cohorts. The dataset included data from 12 579 adults (4678 current smokers and 7901 non-smokers) over a mean follow-up interval of 8.6 years. Meta-analysis confirmed a cross-sectional difference in LTL between smokers and non-smokers, with mean LTL 84.61 bp shorter in smokers (95% CI: 22.62 to 146.61). However, LTL attrition was only 0.51 bp yr-1 faster in smokers than in non-smokers (95% CI: -2.09 to 1.08), a difference that equates to only 1.32% of the estimated age-related loss of 38.33 bp yr-1. Assuming a linear effect of smoking, 167 years of smoking would be required to generate the observed cross-sectional difference in LTL. Therefore, the difference in LTL between smokers and non-smokers is extremely unlikely to be explained by a linear, causal effect of smoking. Selective adoption, whereby individuals with short telomeres are more likely to start smoking, needs to be considered as a more plausible explanation for the observed pattern of telomere dynamics.

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rsos.190420 - Version of Record
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Accepted/In Press date: 3 May 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 5 June 2019
Keywords: Biological age, Longitudinal, Smoking, Telomere attrition, Telomere length

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 432453
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/432453
ISSN: 2054-5703
PURE UUID: 725996a0-a519-4f46-9a35-7eed6c1f870f
ORCID for Cyrus Cooper: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3510-0709
ORCID for Holly Syddall: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0171-0306

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 16 Jul 2019 16:30
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 02:41

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Contributors

Author: Melissa Bateson
Author: Abraham Aviv
Author: Laila Bendix
Author: Athanase Benetos
Author: Yoav Ben-Shlomo
Author: Stig E. Bojesen
Author: Cyrus Cooper ORCID iD
Author: Rachel Cooper
Author: Ian J. Deary
Author: Sara Hägg
Author: Sarah E. Harris
Author: Jeremy D. Kark
Author: Florian Kronenberg
Author: Diana Kuh
Author: Carlos Labat
Author: Carmen M. Martin-Ruiz
Author: Craig Meyer
Author: Børge G. Nordestgaard
Author: Brenda W.J.H. Penninx
Author: Gillian V. Pepper
Author: Dóra Révész
Author: M. Abdullah Said
Author: John M. Starr
Author: Holly Syddall ORCID iD
Author: William Murray Thomson
Author: Pim Van Der Harst
Author: Mary Whooley
Author: Thomas Von Zglinicki
Author: Peter Willeit
Author: Yiqiang Zhan
Author: Daniel Nettle

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