The menopause, and its turbulent transition, can be blamed on a conflict between the genes a woman inherits from each of her parents, according to Dr Andy Gardner of the School of Biology and scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London and Sokendai Graduate University for Advanced Studies in Japan. One set of genes wants her to continue having children while the other wants her to stop. There is a possibility that the genes underpinning menopause are epigenetically regulated can help researchers identify genetic markers for associated disorders, such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. The research also suggests novel applications in family planning, personalised according to a woman’s genetic background.
The study, which will appear in the February issue of the journal Ecology Letters, informs the development of personalised family planning and preventative medicine strategies for dealing with cardiovascular problems – and even some cancers. [press release]