Does having lots of children cause women to age more quickly? The family trees of Britain's aristocratic families provide the answer.
Researchers believe that bearing children uses up energy which would otherwise be used to repair cells and slow down the aging process. To test this theory, researchers searched the Hollingsworth computerized genealogy, which has the records of 30,000 peers and their families between 1603 and 1959. They found that early death was a third more likely among women who had eight or more children, compared with those who had only two.
Even women who had four children died sooner, and there was also a disadvantage to having children early. There was no negative effect on the fathers.
Studies have shown that when a species with a high reproductive rate and a short lifespan is placed in an environment with no predators, reproductive rates fall and they live longer, which is what's happening to modern humans right now.
Royal Society researcher Jim Oeppen says, "It supports the theory that if you devote energy to child-bearing, you damage the future of your own body." Lots of tired mothers would agree with him.
Mothers: What you need is some Alien Energy. Don't miss Whitley?s discussion with popular Dreamland guest Andrew Collins this Saturday.
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