Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why females live longer than males: is it due to the father's sperm?

Why females live longer than males: is it due to the father's sperm? <-Link to original article
I found an interesting post over at Science Daily about what actually make female live longer than males on average. Apparently that is a phenomenon not just common among humans, but nearly any mammal species as the article will say. They did an experiment where they compared mice who had genes from two mothers to mice who had genes from the "normal" type of setup, one father and one mother, and found that the mother-mice lived significantly longer than the father-mother-mice. This would/could indicate that there is a father-specific gene, or male specific if you like, that makes you live shorter. Or less long.
However the article doesn't discuss the reason for this so I am wondering, what would be the benefits of living shorter? The male gene that supposedly could do this must somehow further some other mechanic that is needed but doesn't make you live long in a germ-free environment where these mice lived. Or of course - living long isn't necessarily optimal seeing from an evolutionary perspective.
I read/heard somewhere long ago that cloned creatures live shorter than their "parents" because they get "used up" genes. That is, genes that already have used for some time and somehow know about it and therefor start the aging process earlier in cloned animals because to the gene (I don't really think the gene thinks anything, it's just the human way to explain stuff :P) think it's about the right time.
It would be really interesting if one could find these genes and see what happens if you remove them? I don't think people could live forever because there are other processes affecting that, like the oxygen decay on the body and such. But I wouldn't think it impossible for people to live for 200 years. I mean afterall, 2000 years ago people didn't live much longer than to 50, today people get to 90 easily! Well in most western countries anyway, I read that in many African countries the average life expectancy is still below 50 years.

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