Writing project assigned on 10/20/09 and due 10/27/09:
Some suggest that menopause evolved because grandmothers are more successful at passing on their genes by investing in grandchildren than in more babies of their own. Others argue that menopause is a consequence of modern medicine prolonging the lifespan of women past 60 when most pre-historic women would be dead. So in the past reproductive aging would have been in sync with aging of the rest of the body. In this view menopause reflects the early mortality in pre-history and is a gene-environment mismatch. There is evidence for and against both the “grandmother hypothesis” and the “artificial lifespan prolongation” hypothesis. Argue for or against either in your paper.
Extra credit: Hormone replacement therapy. Is menopause a treatable deficiency disease? Write about the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy from an evolutionary point of view. under which hypothesis, “grandmother” or “artificial lifespan prolongation” would you predict that HRT would be more helpful in promoting heath and preventing disease. What does the data say? (This will take some research.)
Emergency Physician, Educator, Researcher, interested in the microbiome, evolution, and medicine