Monday, May 08, 2006

Are men cursed with the Y gene? Women's strength and longevity is due to their two X chromosomes, according to an article in today's Los Angeles Times. Women's stamina and resilience, according to the article, come from combination of biology, social behavior and psychology, which combine to give women a "boost" that men (with their feeble Y chromosome) don't have. The story notes:
Not only do women live longer than men in the United States, this year, for the first time, the longevity gap will likely become a worldwide phenomenon. Thanks to advances in maternal care, women in every corner of the globe will outlive their male compatriots, according to projections published in the April 8 issue of the British Medical Journal. Their health advantage has long been chalked up to hormones. Now scientists are starting to explore the DNA within each cell, and they're finding some protective benefits to having a double dose of the X chromosome, as females do, compared with the X-Y combination that males have.
Actually, the key differences between the female XX and male XY chromosome lineup have been known for almost a decade. Brian Sykes, a professor of genetics at Oxford University has written about it extensively. In his wonderful book, Adam's Curse (Norton, 2004), he discusses the "fatal flaw" of the Y chromosome. Sykes notes that
Far from being vigourous and robust, this ultimate genetic symbol of male machismo is decaying at such an alarming rate that, for humans at least, the genetic modification experiment will soon be over. Like many species before us who have lost their males, we run the real risk of extinction.
Thats us men. All bluff and bluster on the outside, fragile as a porcelain doll on the inside.


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