1) Make less than £25,000 ($40,926) a year?
2) Rent your home?
3) Fail to eat your vegetables?
If you answered yes to all three questions, your telomeres may be shortening at a faster rate than those who answered no (read: are less deprived).[Note: Telomeres are the ends of chromosomes that get depleted as we age].
At least that’s what a new study coming out of the Glasgow Center for Population Health is reporting. The Public Library of Science recently published the study’s findings, which established that there may be a scientific association between socioeconomic status and aging.
The Glasgow study involved measuring telomere length in blood samples of 382 Glaswegians.
For people with annual incomes lower than £25,000, telomeres showed an average 7.7% decrease in length over a 10-year period. Those with incomes greater than £25,000 showed only a 0.6% shortening in their telomeres in comparison.
Moreover, poor diet was found to exacerbate telomere shortening. Dietary intake was based on participants’ responses on a lifestyle questionnaire. Self-reported frequency of consumption in 21 food categories was used to determine a diet score. Those with poor diets showed a 7.7% decrease in telomere length, compared to 1.8% in those with better diets.
In addition, those renting accommodations compared to those who owned their homes had a telomere length reduction of 8.7% compared to 2.2%, respectively.
This study is interesting because it offers scientific evidence for health inequities while proposing that a combination of factors affecting an individual’s livelihood may indeed determine how quickly he or she ages.
Results from this study and those that may follow would potentially be useful in informing public health initiatives that address health disparities among poor older adults.
As a caveat, although these results could be useful at a population level, they are not applicable in determining individual life expectancy.
By: Julie N. Thai [GeriPal International Correspondent]