Saturday, 22 June 2013

Men to Blame for Menopause!

Yes ladies, you read that right.  No, don't go poke the nearest and dearest man in your life in the ribs!  It's not one specific guy to blame, but apparently almost all men, in general, back through the millennia.  At least according to a theory put forward by researchers from McMaster University, here in Canada.

In a nutshell, the study (link here - good luck!) claims that men's preference for younger mates meant that older women were not reproducing.  Over time, this led to genetic mutations that were passed down through the generations, eventually becoming a permanent change in the human female genome, which is now menopause as we experience it.

I'm not going to argue the science of this; I understand the logic (sort of).  I do have issues and questions about it though.  First is an issue with a couple of statements made by Dr. Singh, one of the researchers.  In refuting other theories, particularly the 'grandmother theory' he asks "How do you evolve infertility?  It is contrary to the whole notion of natural selection."  He then goes on to say, in defense of his own theory "Natural selection selects for fertility, for reproduction.  Menopause is not a change that improved the survival of the species, merely recognized that fertility did not serve any ongoing purpose beyond a certain age."  To me then that sounds like we did evolve infertility because it was no longer useful to us!  If I'm missing something here, please let me know.

Dr. Singh also suggested that, if we know why/how we developed menopause, then maybe it could be reversed.  He points out that as well as hormonal disruption, menopause comes with some serious health issues.  My questions here are 1) do women want to reverse menopause?  Speaking purely for myself, although it is uncomfortable at times, I am enjoying the freedom that it brings.  No reversal of menopause for me, thank you!  And 2) would there not be health risks associated with continuing to be fertile our whole lives?  If we are ovulating and therefore presumably producing estrogen, would we not all be at a higher risk for associated cancers, such as breast, ovarian and endometrial - not to mention strokes?

What about the risks of later pregnancies and the higher incidences of birth defects in babies born to older women?  Given that part of the contention of this study is that human females (and killer whales) are the only animals that live long past the end of our fertility, could this be the result of longer life expectancy nowadays, rather than an evolutionary mutation?  Could it be that we experience menopause where chimps, dogs and horses don't because we have had better health care?  Just saying!

In researching for this post, it was obvious that news media outlets the world over, as well as countless bloggers, were having a field day with this study. It made for some eye-grabbing headlines, and controversial opinions.  One of my favourite was from the site  In the comments section after the article, one gentleman wrote "How can women 'scientists' spew such idiotic drivel and expect to be taken seriously?  Universities should be able to take back degrees that were granted to people who turn out to be professional imbeciles."  Hey Buddy - newsflash - the researchers on this study were ALL MEN!  And another newsflash - intelligent women don't hate men.  They just have better things to do than listen to the moronic ramblings of the ignorant!

Sorry!  This person made it just too easy to get my own back for the many anti-women sites I encountered and read through in my search for unique opinions on this story.  Typically, I'd like to think that this blog is more about accentuating the positive. 'Cause apparently it's just us and the orcas in this menopause thing, so we've gotta raise it up and stick together!



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