Children bring a lot of blessings into our lives--more joy, meaning, and laughs (and, yeah, tears). But for aeons kids have been thought by scientists to AGE their mothers. Not true, according to a new study published on PLOS One--and the more children you have, the more slowly you'll age.
Canadian researchers arrived at this conclusion after studying a group of Guatemalan women for 13 years. Those women who had more kids had longer telomeres, those protective tips at the end of our DNA that help cells replicate without mutations. People with longer telomeres tend to live longer--and stay healthier into their old age.
So what could account for the slow-down of the aging process? Researchers speculate it could the the spike in estrogen produced during pregnancy. "Estrogen functions as a potent antioxidant that protects cells against telomere shortening," notes Pablo Nepomnaschy, Ph.D., who led the study and teaches health sciences at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.
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