Telomere length in white blood cell DNA and lung cancer: A pooled analysis of three prospective cohorts

Wei Jie Seow, Richard M. Cawthon, Mark P. Purdue, Wei Hu, Yu Tang Gao, Wen Yi Huang, Stephanie J. Weinstein, Bu Tian Ji, Jarmo Virtamo, H. Dean Hosgood, Bryan A. Bassig, Xiao Ou Shu, Qiuyin Cai, Yong Bing Xiang, Shen Min, Wong Ho Chow, Sonja I. Berndt, Christopher Kim, Unhee Lim, Demetrius AlbanesNeil E. Caporaso, Stephen Chanock, Wei Zheng, Nathaniel Rothman, Qing Lan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


We investigated the relationship between telomere length and lung cancer in a pooled analysis from three prospective cohort studies: the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial, conducted among men and women in the United States, and previously published data from the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Trial conducted among male smokers in Finland, and the Shanghai Women's Health Study (SWHS), which is comprised primarily of never-smokers. The pooled population included 847 cases and 847 controls matched by study, age, and sex. Leukocyte telomere length was measured by a monochrome multiplex qPCR assay. We used conditional logistic regression models to calculate ORs and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between telomere length and lung cancer risk, adjusted for age and pack-years of smoking. Longer telomere length was associated with increased lung cancer risk in the pooled analysis [OR (95% CI) by quartile: 1.00; 1.24 (0.90-1.71); 1.27 (0.91-1.78); and 1.86 (1.33-2.62); P trend = 0.000022]. Findings were consistent across the three cohorts and strongest for subjects with very long telomere length, i.e., lung cancer risks for telomere length [OR (95% CI)] in the upper half of the fourth quartile were 2.41 (1.28-4.52), 2.16 (1.11-4.23), and 3.02(1.39-6.58) for the PLCO trial, the ATBC trial, and the SWHS, respectively. In addition, the association persisted among cases diagnosed more than 6 years after blood collection and was particularly evident for female adenocarcinoma cases. Telomere length in white blood cell DNA may be a biomarker of future increased risk of lung cancer in diverse populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4090-4098
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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