If your father and grandfather waited until they were older before having children, you might experience life-extending benefits. Biologists assume that a slow pace of aging requires that the body invest more resources in repairing cells and tissues.
A new study suggests that our bodies might increase these investments to slow the pace of aging if our father or grandfather waited until they were older before having children.
"If your father and grandfather were able to live and reproduce at a later age, this might predict that you yourself live in an environment that is somewhat similar — an environment with less accidental deaths or in which men are only able to find a partner at later ages," said Dan T.A. Eisenberg , lead author of
"In such an environment, investing more in a body capable of reaching these late ages could be an adaptive strategy from an evolutionary perspective," he said.
Eisenberg will become an acting assistant professor in the University of Washington’s anthropology department this fall. He did the study while at Northwestern University.
The study, which was conducted in the Philippines, found that children of older fathers not only inherit longer telomeres, which are DNA found at the ends of chromosomes, but that the association of paternal age with offspring telomere length is cumulative across multiple generations. Shorter telomeres seem to be a cause of ill health that occurs with aging — longer telomeres seem to promote slower aging.