Social Relationships and Salivary Telomere Length Among Middle-Aged and Older African American and White Adults.

TitleSocial Relationships and Salivary Telomere Length Among Middle-Aged and Older African American and White Adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsLincoln, KD, Lloyd, DA, Nguyen, AW
JournalJournals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Date Published2017 May 09
ISSN Number1758-5368
KeywordsAfrican Americans, Social Relationships, Telomeres, Women and Minorities

Objectives: A common mechanism underlying premature morbidity may be accelerated biological aging as reflected by salivary telomere length (STL). This study examined the extent to which social relationships, both positive and negative, can be protective or confer risk relative to biological aging.

Method: Data from the Health and Retirement Study and multiple regression were used to examine cross-sectional associations between STL, self-reported social support, and negative interaction (e.g., conflict, criticism) with family in a nationally representative sample of African American and non-Hispanic White middle-aged and older adults (N = 4,080).

Results: Social support from family was associated with shorter STL. Negative interaction with family had no main effect on STL but interactions characterized by high social support and more frequent negative interactions were associated with longer STL. Negative interaction with family was negatively associated with STL for African Americans and Whites but the magnitude of the effect was greater for African Americans.

Discussion: Study findings highlight the role of social relationships in physiological deterioration among middle-aged and older adults and identify a potential mechanism whereby race is linked to accelerated biological aging. Findings highlight the importance of considering positive and negative aspects of social relationships to understand the consequences of social connections for cellular aging in diverse populations.

User Guide Notes

Alternate JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Citation Key9078
PubMed ID28486613
PubMed Central IDPMC6703231