After decades of labouring under other theories that never
seemed to add up, a team led by biologist, Rama Singh, has concluded that what
causes menopause in women is men.
Singh, an evolutionary geneticist, backed by computer models
developed by colleagues Jonathan Stone and Richard Morton, has determined that
menopause is actually an unintended outcome of natural selection — the result of
its effects having become relaxed in older women.
Over time, human males have shown a preference for younger
women in selecting mates, stacking

the Darwinian deck against continued
fertility in older women, the researchers have found.

“In a sense, it is like aging, but it is different because
it is an all-or-nothing process that has been accelerated because of
preferential mating,” says Singh, a professor in McMaster’s Department of
Biology whose research specialties include the evolution of human diversity.
Stone is an associate professor in the Department of Biology
and associate director of McMaster’s Origins Institute, whose themes include
the origins of humanity, while Morton is a professor emeritus in Biology.
While conventional thinking has held that menopause prevents
older women from continuing to reproduce, in fact, the researchers’ new theory
says it is the lack of reproduction that has given rise to menopause.
Their work appears in the online, open-access journal PLOS
Computational Biology.
Menopause is believed to be unique to humans, but no one had
yet been able to offer a satisfactory explanation for why it occurs, Singh
“How do you evolve infertility? It is contrary to the whole
notion of natural selection. Natural selection selects for fertility, for
reproduction — not for stopping it,” he says.
The new theory holds that, over time, competition among men
of all ages for younger mates has left older females with much less chance of
reproducing. The forces of natural selection, Singh says, are concerned only
with the survival of the species through individual fitness, so they protect
fertility in women while they are most likely to reproduce.
Source: Science Daily

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