Menopause for the Good of the Species
Regis NicollRegis Nicoll's weblog
- 2007 Sep 21
If you are a mid-life woman going through “the change,” you can take comfort in those “hot flash” moments. Really.
New research indicates that menopause helps improve the survival of the young. How so? Debora MacKenzie of the New Scientist explains,
"Data from Africa indicates that the menopause creates grandmothers without young children of their own that can improve the survival chances of their daughters' offspring…Human female reproductive functions stop around age 50, and start tapering off even earlier. In other mammals, female reproduction simply stops because of ageing, at a variety of ages. But in humans the shutdown is deliberate and early. And it is genetically controlled, meaning the genes responsible were selected by evolution." (Emphasis added.)
“Selected by evolution”? If my memory serves me, it’s only within the last century or so that life expectancy has extended beyond what is now considered mid-life. I also seem to recall that that extension was primarily the result of (intelligently designed!) advances in medical science, not random variation and natural selection.
Well, so much for another study whose sole purpose is to validate neo-Darwinism. To such studies, it seems there’s no end. Sigh.
What do you think about this new finding? Let us hear from you.