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Mystery of lifespan gap between sexes may be solved, say researchers

From humans to black-tailed prairie dogs, female mammals often outlive males – but for birds, the reverse is true.

Now researchers say they have cracked the mystery, revealing that having two copies of the same sex chromosome is associated with having a longer lifespan, suggesting the second copy offers a protective effect.

“These findings are a crucial step in uncovering the underlying mechanisms affecting longevity, which could point to pathways for extending life,” the authors write. “We can only hope that more answers are found in our lifetime.”

The idea that a second copy of the same sex chromosome is protective has been around for a while, supported by the observation that in mammals – where females have two of the same sex chromosomes – males tend to have shorter lifespans. In birds, males live longer on average and have two Z chromosomes, while females have one Z and one W chromosome.

Read more at The Guardian

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