May 04, 2009
Women Who Make Babies In Their 40s Live Longer

A study of the Utah Population Database at the University of Utah which tracks the original Mormon pioneers and their descendants finds that women who are still able to reproduce in their 40s also live longer.

SALT LAKE CITY, May 4, 2009 Women who have babies naturally in their 40s or 50s tend to live longer than other women. Now, a new study shows their brothers also live longer, but the brothers' wives do not, suggesting the same genes prolong lifespan and female fertility, and may be more important than social and environmental factors.

"If women in your family give birth at older ages, you may well have a chance of living longer than you would otherwise," says the study's lead author, demographer Ken R. Smith, a professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah. "If you have a female relative who had children after age 45, then there may be some genetic benefit in your family that will enhance your longevity."

This is not a surprising result. Women whose bodies are aging more slowly are also more likely to have reproductive organs that can produce babies for a longer period of time.

Studies like this one will eventually lead to the identification of genetic variations that slow the aging process. How will we use this information? Some of us will opt to have our replacement organs grown from cells genetically modified to contain all the genetic variants that make the organs last longer.

Speaking of replacement organs, a good article in Scientific American surveys recent progress in tissue engineering and growth of replacement organs.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 May 04 10:59 PM  Aging Studies

David Govett said at May 5, 2009 10:36 AM:

Perhaps women capable of reproducing in their 40s are inherently healthier, and thus live longer. Causality seems sloppy.

Rachel said at May 6, 2009 10:43 AM:

How about the obvious answer. Women who say they gave birth at 50 were really mistaken about their age. In general, age data from any population before birth certificates and such should be taken with a big grain of sale. Furthermore, it's easy to imagine a family where they know their relative ages pretty well, but they're all off by a couple of years.

Nick G said at May 10, 2009 4:55 PM:

Rachel, Mormons keep very careful records.

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