Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Recent work suggests that leukocyte telomere length (LTL), a marker of cellular aging, is sensitive to effects of social stress and may also provide early indication of premature aging. Using data from a birth cohort with LTL information at birth and in middle adulthood we examined a potential source of race-based health disparity by testing the hypothesis that Blacks would demonstrate a faster rate of telomere shortening than Whites. Linear regression analyses were conducted and adjusted for pack years, BMI, education and social factors, diet, exercise, marital status, and age. At birth black individuals had LTLs that were longer, on average, than their White counterparts (b=3.85, p<0.01). However, rate of shortening was greater for Blacks, who showed a larger difference in length between birth and adulthood (b=5.10, p=0.01) as compared with Whites, resulting in smaller racial differences in absolute adult LTL.