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Ageing Res Rev. 2007 Aug;6(2):141-9. Epub 2007 May 1.

Does reproduction decrease longevity in human beings?

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  • Centre de Recherche sur la Cognition Animale, UMR CNRS 5169, Universit√© Paul-Sabatier, 118 route de Narbonne, F-31062 Toulouse Cedex 9, France. lebourg@cict.fr


According to the disposable soma theory, a cost for reproduction could exist in human beings and other species and, thus, longevity could decrease when women have a higher number of children. The purpose of this article is to review the evidence in populations living or not living under natural fertility conditions, i.e. when fertility is near its biological maximum. The results indicate that in natural fertility conditions longevity does not decrease when the number of children increases but, in modern populations, mortality could slightly increase when women have more than ca 5 children. Complete data for these modern cohorts will tell us, one day, whether these results are still observed when the variable of interest is longevity and not only mortality.

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