Telomeres MR Collaboration paper published in JAMA Oncology
28 February 2017
Congratulations to Philip Haycock and The Telomeres Mendelian Randomization Collaboration for publication of their paper in JAMA Oncology: Association Between Telomere Length and Risk of Cancer and Non-Neoplastic Diseases: A Mendelian Randomization Study
Telomeres protect the ends of human chromosomes from damage and shorten progressively over time with each cell division. We assessed the effect of telomere length on risk of 83 non-communicable diseases in 420,081 cases and 1,093,105 controls, using a statistical approach known as Mendelian randomization. We found that having longer telomeres tended to increase risk for cancer but reduced risk for some other diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases. These findings suggest that potential medical applications based on telomere length may have to consider a trade-off in risk between cancer and other diseases. For example, a number of companies offer telomere length measurement services to the public, claiming that shorter telomeres are a general indicator of poor health and that such information can be used to motivate healthy lifestyle choices. However, the conflicting direction of association between telomere length and risk of cancer and other diseases suggests that such services to the general public may be premature.
An interview with Philip Haycock about this paper can be read here.