Could fasting allow older women to have children?
That's the implication of two new studies which suggest that restricting food may offset some of the loss of egg quality and quantity that comes with aging.
The findings may even enable new eggs to be created from scratch.
It's not yet clear whether the findings extend to humans, but a better understanding of the mechanisms involved might eventually make it easier for older women to bear children.
In the first study, Jonathan Tilly and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School reduced the calorie intake of adult female mice by 40 per cent and found that significantly fewer of their eggs had abnormal chromosomes once the mice reached the age of 12 months – advanced reproductive years in mouse terms – compared with mice that were allowed to eat as much as they liked.
Such abnormalities in eggs are known to increase the risk of miscarriage and birth defects in older mothers, both mouse and human.
Journal references: Tilly: Aging Cell, DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2008.00409.x; Van Gilst: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1178343
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