Does pregnancy affect cell aging in women?
Researchers found that childbirth can shorten women's life expectancy. But this negative impact is probably not due to the stress of motherhood, rather pregnancy could cause women's cells to age faster.
In their current study, scientists at Northwestern University found that pregnancy appears to cause cells to age faster in women. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Nature".
Telomeres from over 3,000 women have been studied
In more than 3,000 Filipino women between the ages of 20 and 22, the current study analyzed telomeres, the strands of human DNA that degrade over time and contribute to the aging of cells.
How do pregnancies affect health?
According to the researchers, telomere length and health were found to decrease as DNA age increased with a woman's number of pregnancies. Basically, women who have more children are more likely to have physical characteristics of someone older than their real age, experts say.
Pregnancy accelerated cell aging by up to two years
Interestingly, the study also showed that the cell age of women who were pregnant during the study was temporarily lower than it should be, suggesting that biological stress during pregnancy appears to be more of a long-term change. The results show that reproduction in women leads to accelerated aging through two independent cellular pathways, the doctors explain. By measuring two key biomarkers, the scientists were able to demonstrate that cell aging was accelerated between 0.5 and two years for each pregnancy.
These two markers can predict mortality
Telomere length and epigenetic age are cellular markers that independently predict mortality, both seeming to be older in women who have had more pregnancies in their reproductive history, explains study author Caled Ryan from Northwestern University. Even after considering other factors that affect cell aging, the number of pregnancies was still at the top. (as)