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

Melissa Bateson 1 Abraham Aviv 2 Laila Bendix 3 Athanase Benetos 4 Yoav Ben-Shlomo 5 Stig Bojesen 6 Cyrus Cooper 7 Rachel Cooper 8 Ian J Deary 9 Sara Hägg 10 Sarah Harris 9 Jeremy Kark 11 Florian Kronenberg 12 Diana Kuh 8 Carlos Labat 13 Carmen Martin-Ruiz 1 Craig Meyer 14 Børge G. Nordestgaard 6 Brenda Penninx 15 Gillian Pepper 1 Dóra Révész 16 M. Abdullah Said 17 John M Starr 9 Holly Syddall 7 William Murray Thomson 18 Pim van Der Harst 19 Mary Whooley 14 Thomas von Zglinicki 1 Peter Willeit 20 Yiqiang Zhan 10 Daniel Nettle 1 
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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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 6:21:06 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, November 29, 2022 - 12:02:10 PM

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Melissa Bateson, Abraham Aviv, Laila Bendix, Athanase Benetos, Yoav Ben-Shlomo, et al.. Smoking does not accelerate leucocyte telomere attrition: a meta-analysis of 18 longitudinal cohorts. Royal Society Open Science, 2019, 6 (6), pp.190420. ⟨10.1098/rsos.190420⟩. ⟨hal-02519190⟩



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