BACKGROUND: Several studies have examined leukocyte telomere length (LTL) as a possible predictor for cancer at various organ sites. The hypothesis originally motivating many of these studies was that shorter telomeres would be associated with an increase in cancer risk; the results of epidemiologic studies have been inconsistent, however, and suggested positive, negative, or null associations. Two studies have addressed the association of LTL in relation to pancreatic cancer risk and the results are contrasting. METHODS: We measured LTL in a prospective study of 331 pancreatic cancer cases and 331 controls in the context of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). RESULTS: We observed that the mean LTL was higher in cases (0.59 ± 0.20) than in controls (0.57 ± 0.17), although this difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.07), and a basic logistic regression model showed no association of LTL with pancreas cancer risk. When adjusting for levels of HbA1c and C-peptide, however, there was a weakly positive association between longer LTL and pancreatic cancer risk [OR, 1.13; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.01-1.27]. Additional analyses by cubic spline regression suggested a possible nonlinear relationship between LTL and pancreatic cancer risk (P = 0.022), with a statistically nonsignificant increase in risk at very low LTL, as well as a significant increase at high LTL. CONCLUSION: Taken together, the results from our study do not support LTL as a uniform and strong predictor of pancreatic cancer. IMPACT: The results of this article can provide insights into telomere dynamics and highlight the complex relationship between LTL and pancreatic cancer risk.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev

Publication Date





2447 - 2454


Adult, Aged, Cohort Studies, Female, Humans, Leukocytes, Male, Middle Aged, Pancreatic Neoplasms, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors, Telomere, Telomere Shortening