Fruit fly study could explain why women live longer than men
A new study could reveal the reason as to why women usually live longer than their male counterparts.
Research from health experts at the Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and the Lancaster University here in the UK, studied fruit flies and discovered a number of mutations in mitochondrial DNA.
Mitochondria is the power source of cells and is inherited from mothers, not fathers. The researchers said that by understanding how this works better they can uncover the reason for women living longer.
It is found in almost all creatures.
"Intriguingly, these same mutations have no effects on patterns of ageing in females," said Dr Damian Dowling, of Monash University, “All animals possess mitochondria, and the tendency for females to outlive males is common to many different species.
"Our results therefore suggest that the mitochondrial mutations we have uncovered will generally cause faster male ageing across the animal kingdom."
"If a mitochondrial mutation occurs that harms fathers, but has no effect on mothers, this mutation will slip through the gaze of natural selection, unnoticed.
"Over thousands of generations, many such mutations have accumulated that harm only males, while leaving females unscathed."
Tom Kirkwood, professor of ageing at Newcastle University said he found the study “intriguing”.
He added that a study in fruit flies shouldn’t be taken as decisive though and, in his opinion, it is a long way off explaining “why women live five-to-six years longer than men”.
"There are other things we know also count - lifestyle, social and behavioural factors. But the biggest difference in biology is that we have different hormones,” he said.
Figures show that at the age 85 there are six women still alive for every four men in the UK and for those lucky enough to get the Queen’s telegram at 100, the ratio is two to one.