The real reason women live longer than men

Women's secret to longevity is revealed as new research in animals shows that sperm genes may shorten lifespan...

Sperm genes may shorten the lifespan of males compared to females, at least in animals, according to Japanese researchers.

The researchers produced female mice by using genetic material from two mothers but no fathers – and then found these mice, which they call bi-maternal or BM, lived substantially longer than those with the normal mix of genes from one male and one female parent.

The findings, though only in animals, are believed to be the first evidence that the sperm genome – all its hereditary information – may adversely affect the lifespan, says researcher Tomohiro Kono, PhD, professor of bioscience at Tokyo University of Agriculture.

‘We produced the BMs by manipulating one set of egg genes so they behaved more like sperm genes,’ Kono explained. ‘Then, we transplanted the manipulated genetic material into a normal unfertilized egg and grew embryos. The embryos developed into adult female mice, bi-maternal.’

The bi-maternal mice lived about a third longer, or 186 days more, than the other mice. The average lifespan of BM mice was 841.5 days, compared to 655.5 for the naturally mated mice.

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