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Healthy diets not associated with telomere length, attrition

26 Oct 2019

The effect of Baltic sea diet, Mediterranean diet and diet’s inflammatory potential on telomere length and attrition appears to be little, according to a Finnish study of elderly men and women.

This longitudinal observational study included 456 men and 590 women who were born between 1934 and 1944 and participated in the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study. The Baltic sea diet score, modified Mediterranean diet score and dietary inflammatory index were calculated based on a 128-item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) collected in 2001–2004.

The investigators measured leukocyte telomere length (LTL) twice, in 2001–2004 and in 2011–2013, by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. They also analysed the association between the dietary patterns and LTL using general linear models with appropriate contrasts.

Cross-sectional analysis in men or women revealed that the Baltic sea diet score, modified Mediterranean diet score and dietary inflammatory index were not associated with LTL.

Higher modified Mediterranean diet score at baseline (2001-2004) correlated with slightly faster LTL shortening during the follow-up (standardized ß, –0.08, 95 percent CI, –0.15 to –0.01). There was no association between the modified Mediterranean diet score and LTL change in men.

Additionally, no association was found between adherence to the Baltic sea diet score and dietary inflammatory index and LTL change in men or women.

“Telomeres are repeats of DNA that contain the sequence TTAGGG at the ends of each chromosome, and their function is to protect DNA from damage,” according to the investigators. “Little evidence exists regarding the relationship between dietary patterns and telomere length, especially derived applying longitudinal design.”

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