Mother’s curse reason for men’s shorter life

Mother’s curse reason for men’s shorter life

Women outlive men by about five to six years. By age 85 there are roughly six women to every four men and by age 100 the ratio is more than two to one. Now scientists think they may have found the answer in the aptly named “Mother’s Curse,” Science Daily reported on Aug. 2.

The research led by Damian Dowling, Florencia Camus of Monash University in Australia, and David Clancy of Lancaster University in the UK shows that a set of DNA inherited only from the mother can be harmful to males and speed up male aging. Dowling said the results point to numerous mutations within mitochondrial DNA that affect how long males live, and the speed at which they age. He said, “Intriguingly, these same mutations have no effects on patterns of aging in females. They only affect males.”

‘Major advance in biology’

Dr David Clancy said this is a major advance in biology. “We show that Mother’s Curse is much broader in its effects on male life history than previously envisaged, resulting in the build-up of mutations that cause males to age faster, and live shorter lives than females. These findings offer a new and compelling explanation to one of life’s greatest puzzles, why the female of many species live longer than the males. “

Mitochondrial DNA, which is found in every cell in the human body except red blood cells, converts the energy of food molecules into energy. It is inherited through the mother only so any harmful mutations which affect only males will have no impact on females, who will continue to pass on mitochondrial DNA to their sons.

Earlier, the team of researchers published the first evidence proving that mitochondrial DNA harbor mutations which interfere with male fertility, but have no harmful effects on female fertility.

The research also implicates the Mother’s Curse as a key player in evolution, since both male reproduction and male aging are affected by mitochondrial DNA passed on by the mother.