Telomere Shortening and Accelerated Aging in US Military Veterans

dc.contributor.authorHoward, Jeffrey T.
dc.contributor.authorJanak, Jud C.
dc.contributor.authorSantos-Lozada, Alexis R.
dc.contributor.authorMcEvilla, Sarah
dc.contributor.authorAnsley, Stephanie D.
dc.contributor.authorWalker, Lauren E.
dc.contributor.authorSpiro, Avron
dc.contributor.authorStewart, Ian J.
dc.description.abstractA growing body of literature on military personnel and veterans’ health suggests that prior military service may be associated with exposures that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which may differ by race/ethnicity. This study examined the hypothesis that differential telomere shortening, a measure of cellular aging, by race/ethnicity may explain prior findings of differential CVD risk in racial/ethnic groups with military service. Data from the first two continuous waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), administered from 1999–2002 were analyzed. Mean telomere length in base pairs was analyzed with multivariable adjusted linear regression with complex sample design, stratified by sex. The unadjusted mean telomere length was 225.8 base shorter for individuals with prior military service. The mean telomere length for men was 47.2 (95% CI: −92.9, −1.5; p < 0.05) base pairs shorter for men with military service after adjustment for demographic, socioeconomic, and behavioral variables, but did not differ significantly in women with and without prior military service. The interaction between military service and race/ethnicity was not significant for men or women. The results suggest that military service may contribute to accelerated aging as a result of health damaging exposures, such as combat, injury, and environmental contaminants, though other unmeasured confounders could also potentially explain the results.
dc.description.departmentPublic Health
dc.identifierdoi: 10.3390/ijerph18041743
dc.identifier.citationInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18 (4): 1743 (2021)
dc.rightsAttribution 4.0 United States
dc.subjectaccelerated aging
dc.subjectveteran’s health
dc.titleTelomere Shortening and Accelerated Aging in US Military Veterans


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