Sex-specific educational attainment is associated with telomere length in an Australian rural population

Yuling Zhou, Brett D. Hambly, David Simmons, Craig McLachlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: There is limited understanding on whether and how socioeconomic status (SES), particularly educational attainment and household income, impacts on telomere length in an Australian rural context. Additionally, it is unknown whether access to health services via the Australian public or private health system influences telomere length. AIM: This study investigates whether there is a relationship between telomere length and SES indicators (income, education) as well as health insurance status in a rural Australian population. METHODS: Samples were drawn from the Australian Rural Victoria cross-sectional Crossroads Study. Leucocyte telomere length (LTL) was measured using a multiplex quantitative polymerase chain reaction method. RESULTS: Among 1424 participants, we did not find a significant main effect association with LTL across education, income level and health insurance. An exploratory finding was sex may influence the relationship between educational attainment and LTL (P = 0.021). In males, but not females, higher education was associated with longer LTL by 0.033 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.002-0.063, P = 0.035]; in those with low education attainment, male participants had shorter LTL by 0.058 (95% CI -0.086 to -0.029) than female participants (P < 0.0001). CONCLUSION: Being male and having lower education attainment was associated with shorter telomere length in our rural population. Evidence from our study supports the importance of education on LTL in males in rural Australia. Our studies also support previous findings that LTL in later life may not be closely associated with indicators of SES.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-473
Number of pages5
Issue number7
Early online date19 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2020


  • Telomere length
  • Rural
  • Australia
  • Education
  • social determinants of health
  • Aging


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