Citation Ellaway A, Dundas R, Robertson T & Shiels PG (2019) More miles on the clock: Neighbourhood stressors are associated with telomere length in a longitudinal study. PLOS ONE, 14 (3), Art. No.: e0214380. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0214380
There is a substantial gap in health and longevity between more affluent and more deprived areas, and more knowledge of the determinants of this health divide is required. Experience of the local residential environment is important for health although few studies have examined this in relation to biological markers of age such as telomere length. We sought to examine if residents’ perceptions of neighbourhood stressors over time were associated with telomere length in a community study.
In a prospective cohort study of 2186 adults in the West of Scotland, we measured neighbourhood stressors at three time points over a 12-year period and telomere length at the end of the study. Using linear regression models, we found that a higher accumulation of neighbourhood stressors over time was associated with shorter telomere length, even after taking cohort, social class, health behaviours (smoking status, diet, physical activity), BMI and depression into account among females only (Beta = 0.007; 95%CI [0.001, 0.012]; P < 0.014).
Neighborhood environments are potentially modifiable, and future efforts directed towards improving deleterious local environments may be useful to lessen telomere attrition.