A genetic study reveals that long telomeres are associated with an elevated risk of lung adenocarcinoma.

A large-scale genetic study of the links between telomere length and risk for five common cancers finds that long telomeres are associated with an increased risk of lung adenocarcinoma. No significant associations between telomere length and other cancer types or subtypes were observed. The study, led by scientists from the University of Chicago, uses a novel method to measure genetic predisposition for telomere length, rather than physiological measures which are confounded by factors such as age and lifestyle. The findings are published in Human Molecular Genetics on July 29, 2015.

“Our work provides compelling evidence of a relationship between long telomeres and increased risk for lung adenocarcinoma,” said study leader Brandon Pierce, PhD, assistant professor of public health sciences at the University of Chicago. “The prevailing hypothesis has been that short telomeres are bad for health, but it appears that this does not necessarily translate to some types of cancer.”

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