Jama logoAbout two days back we saw that apparent association between scleroderma and cancer was revealed. Experts from Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria revealed that shorter length of Leukocyte telomeres which are chromosome markers of biological aging are linked with an augmented risk of cancer and finally death due to cancer.

Telomeres are structures towards the end of a chromosome occupied with reproduction and stability of the chromosome. The length of the telomere can be shortened by various genetic factors and environmental stressors. Experts revealed that telomere length is considered to be a promising marker of biological age. Previous analysis revealed that short telomeres and chromosomal instability stimulate malignant cell transformation.

Authors comment, “Proof of concept for this intriguing hypothesis remains to be established from an epidemiological perspective”.

Experts evaluated the link between leukocyte telomere length and risk of new-onset cancer and cancer death. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to examine the length of leukocyte telomere among 787 participants. These participants were not affected with cancer in the year 1995 and were part of the population-based Bruneck Study conducted in Italy. The main findings revealed the occurrence of new cancer and cancer death rates during a follow-up period of 10 years specifically from 1995-2005.

Authors quote, “Of note, telomere length was preferentially associated with individual cancers characterized by a high fatality rate such as gastric, lung, and ovarian cancer, but less so with tumors linked to better prognosis”.

Experts observed that during the follow-up period 92 individuals out of the 787 participants were affected with cancer. Independent of standard risk factors findings highlighted that short telomere length in the initial stages of the analysis were linked with new cancer. Individuals in the middle length group had increased twice the risk of cancer and those in shortest length group increased the risk by three times. Further these findings were compared with participants in the longest telomere length group.

Authors comment, “A variety of experimental and genetic studies support the hypothesis that telomere attrition contributes to the manifestation and dissemination of malignancies. While fully functional telomeres confer protection of the genome, shortened telomeres facilitate chromosomal instability”.

Short telomere was observed to be linked with an increased rate of death from cancer. In conclusion scientists share that telomere length had similar analytical value for cancer among both men and women in varied age groups.

These findings are according to a study in the July 7 issue of JAMA.