Anti-Aging Tips: Having More Kids Could Slow Aging

  • comments
  • print
  • email
Jan 09, 2016 11:53 PM EST

Aging is a process that all people face, but mothers have an advantage against it: more children. A study has found that having more children helps in slowing down the aging process for women, thanks to certain benefits that pregnancy brings on a genetic level.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, found that women who had more children had longer telomeres compared to those who had less or none.

Telomeres are the protective tips found at the end of each DNA strand that protect our chromosomes from damage. Telomeres, which are essential for cell replication, get shorter with each time cells replicate, reports Medical News Today. When they become so short, they are unable to protect chromosomes, causing cells to age rapidly.

Apparently, most moms wouldn't think of it this way due to the pains of childbirth, as well as the possible stress (considered an aging agent) that child-rearing brings, but according to the results of this particular research, more kids equals slower aging.

The study assessed the telomere lengths (TL) belonging to 75 women from two indigenous rural Guatemalan communities. The TL were measured two times, thirteen years apart (2000 and 2013), using saliva specimens and buccal epithelial cell samples taken from the participants.

In 2013, the participants were also asked to complete a short verbal demographic interview that include questions about their current age, their age when they first gave birth, maternal parity, inter-birth intervals, offspring survival, family income, diet, alcohol consumption and smoking habits. They were also asked as to the number of their child at the start of the study and the number of those who were still surviving during the interview.

It was found that those who had more children had longer telomeres than those who had fewer children. This suggests that having more children might slow the process of cellular aging.

The researchers connect this finding to the hormone estrogen.

"The slower pace of telomere shortening found in the study participants who have more children, however, may be attributed to the dramatic increase in estrogen, a hormone produced during pregnancy," Pablo Nepomnaschy head of the Maternal and Child Health Laboratory at the Simon Fraser University explained in a press release.

"Estrogen functions as a potent antioxidant that protects cells against telomere shortening," he added.

This is the first study to look into the direct relationship between the number of children and telomere shortening over a period of time.

What do you think of the findings? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

Join the Conversation
Real Time Analytics