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Mediterranean diet and telomere length

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 02 December 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6843
  1. Peter M Nilsson, professor
  1. 1 Lund University, Department of Clinical Sciences, Skåne University Hospital, S-205 02 Malmö, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to: Peter.Nilsson{at}

Genetic factors may contribute to the link between Mediterranean diet and longer telomeres

Interest in telomere biology has increased in recent years, both because of the quest for a reliable marker of biological ageing and because shorter telomeres in leucocytes have been shown to predict coronary heart disease (CHD).1 2 The methodological challenges of measuring telomere length have caused some delays in the progress of telomere research,3 but strong genetic arguments exist in favour of a more causal association between abnormalities in telomere biology and CHD.4 Most studies on the link between telomere length and disease remain cross sectional in design, so considerations of cause and effect are difficult. Observational research using repeated measurement of telomere length is needed to calculate the telomere attrition rate. The rate at which telomeres shorten is thought to be an even better biomarker of the ageing process than just measuring telomere length once.

Genetic factors are important to our understanding of telomere biology and its role in risk of CHD, but we also know from many studies that lifestyle components are associated with both CHD risk and telomere length. …

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