You often hear parents say that the stress and worry of their kids is the reason they have so many grey hairs.
But researchers have found that the more kids women have, the slower they age!
Researchers from Simon Fraser University in Canada found that women who give birth to more surviving children had longer “telomeres” – which are protective tips found in DNA strands that indicate cellular aging.
They followed 75 women – Kaqchikel Maya people from rural areas in Guatemala – for 13 years. The Kaqchikel Maya usually marry within their communities, and the women in the study had similar lifestyles, which helped set a baseline to limit potential confounding factors.
DNA was extracted from the women using saliva samples and cheek swabs, with the telomeres measured. After 13 years had passed, they found that women with the most number of surviving children had longer telomeres than those with fewer kids.
I’ve got a few wrinkles around my eyes that weren’t there a year ago and I’m really hoping I don’t get any more any time soon. While I have three children already, I’m not really willing to add another kid into the mix to test the theory out.
One of the researchers, Pablo Nepomnaschy, said that the study findings contradict a theory that producing more offspring accelerates the pace of biological aging.
When you think about it, from an evolutionary/biological perspective, once we’ve popped out a few kids, our purpose in life is done. But these findings would suggest otherwise!
Nepomnaschy said the environment where the study participants live might also influence the pace of aging and their reproductive efforts.
“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 family and friends,” he said.
“Greater support could lead to an increase in the amount of metabolic energy that can be allocated to tissue maintenance, thereby slowing down the process of cellular aging.”
So that whole “it takes a village” thing might keep you looking young.
And if you feel like you’ve aged a whole bunch because you’re frazzled raising your kids and get little to no support? There might just be something in that.