Scientists believe they have discovered a clue to why women tend to live longer than men
Scientists believe they have discovered why women live longer than men. The researchers conducted a study of the DNA of fruit flies, report from BBC.
The study was published in Current Biology and was done on mutations of mitochondrial DNA – the source of energy for cells. Mitochondria are inherited only from mothers and never from fathers so there is no way to be observed the variations on the mitochondrial variations that only affect men.
However, experts believe that many factors can explain the gender difference in life expectancy. At the age of about 85 years in Britain there are about six women in every four men. In centenarians the ratio is nearly two to one.
The same rule applies in the wild world – animal females often outlive males.
Scientists at the Australian Monash University and the British Lancaster University analyzed the mitochondria of 13 different groups of male and female fruit flies.
Mitochondria, which are present in all animal cells, turn food into energy for the body.
Dr Damian Dowling, of the Monash University, who is one of the scientists who prepared the study, said that the results showed several mutations in the mitochondrial DNA that affect the life expectancy of males and the speed with which they age.
Interestingly, these mutations have no effect on aging women, he said. All animals have mitochondria, but the tendency of females to outlive males is quite common. According to the study results the mutations that are found are causing the faster aging of males in the animal kingdom.
Scientists suggest that the defects are not transmitted to subsequent generations, because mitochondria are transmitted by females. Over thousands of generations such mutations have accumulated damage only to males while females were not affected.