Telomeres are protective structures at the ends of linear chromosomes, regulated by a host of associated proteins. When telomeres become dysfunctional, genomic instability ensues. The vast majority of cells undergo apoptosis, although a rare cell may survive and become tumorigenic.
The authors used conditional logistic regression to examine relative telomere length in peripheral blood leukocytes, genetic variants at telomere maintenance gene loci (TERT, TNKS2, POT1, TERF1, TERF2), and endometrial cancer risk in case-control studies nested within the Nurses' Health Study and the Women's Health Study.
Relative telomere length was significantly inversely correlated with body mass index and weight gain since age 18 years. The authors did not observe a relationship between relative telomere length and endometrial cancer risk. Women in the shortest quartile had a multivariate-adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 1.20 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.73-1.96; P for trend = .37) compared with women in the longest quartile. The authors found an elevation in endometrial cancer risk among women carrying at least 1 minor allele of RS2736122 (TERT; OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.01-1.38) or RS12412538 (TNKS2; OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.00-1.34).
Relative telomere length was not associated with endometrial cancer risk. Other aspects of telomere maintenance remain to be explored. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.