Low intelligence has been associated with poor health and mortality, but underlying mechanisms remain obscure. We hypothesized that low intelligence is associated with accelerated biological ageing as reflected by telomere length; we suggested potential mediation of this association by unhealthy behaviors and low socioeconomic position. The study was performed in a longitudinal population-based cohort study of 895 participants (46.8% males). Intelligence was measured with the Generalized Aptitude-Test Battery at mean age 52.8 years (33-79 years, SD = 11.3). Leukocyte telomere length was measured by PCR. Lifestyle and socioeconomic factors were assessed using written self-report measures. Linear regression analyses, adjusted for age, sex, and telomere length measured at the first assessment wave (T1), showed that low intelligence was associated with shorter leukocyte telomere length at approximately 2 years follow-up (beta = .081, t = 2.160, p = .031). Nearly 40% of this association was explained by an unhealthy lifestyle, while low socioeconomic position did not add any significant mediation. Low intelligence may be a risk factor for accelerated biological ageing, thereby providing an explanation for its association with poor health and mortality.
- COGNITIVE FUNCTION
- STRESS HORMONES