Background: Shorter telomeres are associated with several age-related diseases, and lifestyle factors could influence this relationship. The aim of this study was to examine associations between salivary telomere length (TL) and diet quality using 5 evidence-based dietary indexes in an elderly (>55 years old) Spanish population of the SUN project (n = 886).
Method: TL was measured using the quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Age-adjusted TL variable through residuals methods was used for all analysis. Diet quality was assessed by the Prime Diet Quality Score (PDQS), Fat Quality Index (FQI), Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener (MEDAS), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) index and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI-2010).
Results: TL did differ according to sex, smoking status, and dyslipidemia in elderly subjects of the SUN study. In addition, subjects with dyslipidemia (compared to absence of dyslipidemia) had a significantly higher risk (27% vs. 18%, p = 0.015) of short telomeres (<percentile 20th). Interestingly, a lower risk of having short telomeres was observed among participants in the top tertiles of the following diet quality score PDQS, MEDAS and DASH compared to the bottom tertiles in crude and adjusted models. Moreover, FQI and AHEI-2010 scores showed an inverse association with the risk of having short telomeres after adjustment for potential confounders (model adjusted for dyslipidemia interaction, p for trend = 0.025 and 0.021, respectively; and model additionally adjusted for sex and smoking status, p for trend = 0.033 and 0.029, respectively).
Conclusion: Adherence to high quality diet is associated to longer salivary TL in our elderly Spanish population of the SUN study.