Excessive alcohol consumption shortens telomeres

Excessive alcohol consumption shortens telomeres , according to a study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. Telomeres are regions of DNA repeating sequences that cover chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Telomere length shortens as people age normally, and shorter telomeres are associated with many diseases of old age, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease. To better understand the effects of alcohol on telomere length, the Oxford University team analysed the genetic information of 245,354 participants in the UK Biobank study, aged between 40 and 69. The results showed that participants diagnosed with alcohol use disorder were more likely to have shorter telomeres. To better understand the specific role of alcohol, the researchers repeated the experiment, using data from earlier genome-wide association studies to identify 93 genetic variants associated with increased alcohol consumption. The researchers designed a genetic risk score based on these variants and found that participants with a higher genetic risk score for increased alcohol consumption were more likely to have shorter telomeres.

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