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Healthy Lifestyle May Attenuate Short Telomere Associations

Appears to counterbalance link between shorter telomeres and coronary artery calcium

THURSDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Engaging in a healthy lifestyle might counterbalance the association between coronary artery calcium (CAC) and shorter telomeres in people who have the latter, according to research published in the Sept. 1 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Vanessa A. Diaz, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and colleagues studied the effect of healthy lifestyle behaviors (high fruit and vegetable consumption, low meat consumption, exercise, social support) on the association between telomere length and the presence of CAC in 318 subjects (aged 40 to 64) with no history of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer.

After controlling for several factors, the researchers found that high social support, low meat consumption, and high fruit and vegetable consumption attenuated the relationship between shorter telomeres and the presence of CAC. Individuals with these healthy lifestyle characteristics and shorter telomeres did not differ significantly from those with longer telomeres. However, those with shorter telomeres and less healthy lifestyles were at a significantly higher risk for the presence of CAC (odds ratios, 3.30, 3.33, and 2.58 for low fruit and vegetable intake, high meat intake, and low social support, respectively). When individuals were stratified by gender, men had similar results, but only fruit and vegetable intake attenuated the shorter telomeres-CAC relationship in women.

"In conclusion, the results of the present study suggest that being involved in healthy lifestyle behaviors might attenuate the association between shorter telomere length and coronary atherosclerosis, as identified using CAC," the authors write.

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