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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Is socioeconomic status associated with biological aging as measured by telomere length?
Authors: Robertson, Tony
Batty, G David
Der, Geoff
Fenton, Candida
Shiels, Paul G
Benzeval, Michaela
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Keywords: biological aging
review, systematic
socioeconomic status
telomere length
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Citation: Robertson T, Batty GD, Der G, Fenton C, Shiels PG & Benzeval M (2013) Is socioeconomic status associated with biological aging as measured by telomere length?, Epidemiologic Reviews, 35 (1), pp. 98-111.
Abstract: It has been hypothesized that one way in which lower socioeconomic status (SES) affects health is by increasing the rate of biological aging. A widely used marker of biological aging is telomere length. Telomeres are structures at the ends of chromosomes that erode with increasing cell proliferation and genetic damage. We aimed to identify, through systematic review and meta-analysis, whether lower SES (greater deprivation) is associated with shorter telomeres. Thirty-one articles, including 29 study populations, were identified. We conducted 3 meta-analyses to compare the telomere lengths of persons of high and low SES with regard to contemporaneous SES (12 study populations from 10 individual articles), education (15 study populations from 14 articles), and childhood SES (2 study populations from 2 articles). For education, there was a significant difference in telomere length between persons of high and low SES in a random-effects model (standardized mean difference (SMD) = 0.060, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.002, 0.118; P = 0.042), although a range of sensitivity analyses weakened this association. There was no evidence for an association between telomere length and contemporaneous SES (SMD = 0.104, 95% CI: -0.027, 0.236; P = 0.119) or childhood SES (SMD = -0.037, 95% CI: -0.143, 0.069; P = 0.491). These results suggest weak evidence for an association between SES (as measured by education) and biological aging (as measured by telomere length), although there was a lack of consistent findings across the SES measures investigated here.
Type: Journal Article
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Rights: © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Affiliation: HS - Management and Support
University of Edinburgh
University of Birmingham
University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow

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