High Phobic Anxiety Linked to Relative Telomere Length

The most phobic women have relative telomere length comparable to women six years older

FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Older women who have phobic anxiety have shorter relative telomere lengths, according to a study published online July 11 in PLoS One.

Olivia I. Okereke, M.D., from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues measured relative telomere lengths in peripheral blood leukocytes from 5,243 nurses (42 to 69 years old) who had completed the Crown-Crisp index, which measures symptoms of phobic anxiety.

The researchers found that women with higher phobic anxiety generally had shorter relative telomere lengths, even after adjusting for possible confounders, including smoking and physical activity. For the most phobic women (Crown-Crisp index of six or greater) the difference in relative telomere length was comparable to that of a woman six years older. The association was stronger in women who were overweight, had never smoked, and had been born to fathers who were 40 years or older.

"In summary, high phobic anxiety may be associated with shorter leukocyte relative telomere lengths in middle-aged and older women," Okereke and colleagues conclude. "Identification of these novel associations invites further investigation in large-scale prospective studies, with detailed ascertainment of anxiety and other mental health variables and repeated measures of telomere length."

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