Shortened Telomere length is associated with increased risk of cancer: A meta-analysis

Hongxia Ma, Ziyuan Zhou, Sheng Wei, Zhensheng Liu, Karen A. Pooley, Alison M. Dunning, Ulrika Svenson, Göran Roos, H. Dean Hosgood, Min Shen, Qingyi Wei

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228 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Telomeres play a key role in the maintenance of chromosome integrity and stability, and telomere shortening is involved in initiation and progression of malignancies. A series of epidemiological studies have examined the association between shortened telomeres and risk of cancers, but the findings remain conflicting. Methods: A dataset composed of 11,255 cases and 13,101 controls from 21 publications was included in a meta-analysis to evaluate the association between overall cancer risk or cancer-specific risk and the relative telomere length. Heterogeneity among studies and their publication bias were further assessed by the χ2-based Q statistic test and Egger's test, respectively. Results: The results showed that shorter telomeres were significantly associated with cancer risk (OR = 1.35, 95% CI = 1.14-1.60), compared with longer telomeres. In the stratified analysis by tumor type, the association remained significant in subgroups of bladder cancer (OR = 1.84, 95% CI = 1.38-2.44), lung cancer (OR = 2.39, 95% CI = 1.18-4.88), smoking-related cancers (OR = 2.25, 95% CI = 1.83-2.78), cancers in the digestive system (OR = 1.69, 95% CI = 1.53-1.87) and the urogenital system (OR = 1.73, 95% CI = 1.12-2.67). Furthermore, the results also indicated that the association between the relative telomere length and overall cancer risk was statistically significant in studies of Caucasian subjects, Asian subjects, retrospective designs, hospital-based controls and smaller sample sizes. Funnel plot and Egger's test suggested that there was no publication bias in the current meta-analysis (P = 0.532). Conclusions: The results of this meta-analysis suggest that the presence of shortened telomeres may be a marker for susceptibility to human cancer, but single larger, well-design prospective studies are warranted to confirm these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere20466
JournalPloS one
Volume6
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 16 2011

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Cite this

Ma, H., Zhou, Z., Wei, S., Liu, Z., Pooley, K. A., Dunning, A. M., Svenson, U., Roos, G., Hosgood, H. D., Shen, M., & Wei, Q. (2011). Shortened Telomere length is associated with increased risk of cancer: A meta-analysis. PloS one, 6(6), [e20466]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0020466