Want to live a long life and age gracefully? Then have more kids – we’re not joking!
Surprising research has found that women with more children live longer and age more slowly. Yep, really!
Having more children slows down ageing process
According to a study researchers at Simon Fraser University, women who give birth to more kids exhibited longer telomeres.
If you’re not sure what a telomere is, they are protective tips at the end of each DNA strand that are linked to ageing.
Longer telomeres are associated with longevity.
“The slower pace of telomere shortening found in the study participants who have more children however, may be attributed to the dramatic increase in oestrogen, a hormone produced during pregnancy,” says study author professor Pablo Nepomnaschy.
“The women we followed over the course of the study were from natural fertility populations where mothers who bear numerous children receive more social support from their relatives and friends.
“Greater support leads to an increase in the amount of metabolic energy that can be allocated to tissue maintenance, thereby slowing down the process of ageing.”
However, another study published in Scientific Reports found that having a child can AGE a mother’s cells by up to two years.
“Telomere length and epigenetic age are cellular markers that independently predict mortality, and both appeared ‘older’ in women who had more pregnancies in their reproductive histories,” says lead author Calen Ryan.
“Even after accounting for other factors that affect cellular ageing, the number of pregnancies still came out on top.”
The first study looked at Guatemalan women, who were on average the age of 39.4 years. Whereas the second study was on women mainly in their 20s in the Philippines.
Maybe the physical demands of motherhood ages us when we are younger but the support system around us keeps us younger when we are older?
Hmmm…. The jury seems to still be out on this one.
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