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What effects do the genes have on future health?
Why do women of higher age often have poorer health compared to men of a similar age. Researchers have now found that the genes have a significant share in the increased health problems in older women.
The University of Exeter scientists found in their current study that the genes are responsible for the fact that older women often have poorer health than men of the same age. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Nature Communications".
Men die earlier
In old age, women are more likely to suffer from diseases and poor health. The doctors were now looking for possible causes for these increased health impairments, because the question has long been asked why older women are usually less healthy than older men, although men have a lower life expectancy overall and die earlier than women.
Not all genes are equally good for women and men
According to scientists at the University of Exeter, the answer to the question of why women have worse health in old age than men is in the genes of women and men. Some genes use one gender, but harm the other, say the experts. The researchers used mathematical models and experimental data from flies to show that such genes can easily spread if they take effect after a female reproduction stop. Shared genes connect the sexes in an evolutionary tug of war, explains study author Professor David Hosken from the University of Exeter. Women and men are developing in different directions, but the common genome means that each gender prevents the other from reaching its optimum, the experts say. Basically, certain genes have a positive effect in a man, so to speak, while the same genes have a bad effect on a woman and vice versa.
Reproduction has a major impact on the accumulation of genes
When women go through menopause, they no longer reproduce and therefore cannot pass on their genes. This means that the so-called selection in women is severely weakened, the doctors explain. From this point on, genes are increasingly in demand that use men, which affects the health of women. However, it is important to mention that survival and health are not the same, says Professor Hosken. The dominance of genes with benefits for men from a certain age is related to the fact that men can still reproduce after the age of female menopause, the expert adds. The experimental data of the flies of the genus Drosophila from the current investigation supported the findings of the mathematical models in humans, since the genes, which were better for men in the older age, tended to be worse for women, the scientists explain. (as)