That's despite a documented link between breast cancer genes and increased fertility in women.
Dr Jack da Silva from the University's School of Molecular & Biomedical Science says that because women who carry breast cancer genes are more fertile, in theory they have a greater chance of passing these genes on to future generations.
"A recent study in the United States found that mutations in the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 were directly linked with a 50% increase in the fertility of women, which is a huge number," Dr da Silva says.
"With such an increased fertility rate, you would expect to see a high frequency of these cancer-causing genes in modern populations, but in fact that is not the case - the frequencies are relatively low."
In a paper being published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, he argues that the so-called "grandmother effect" may in part be the reason behind this phenomenon.
"In an earlier study, researchers found that post-menopausal women create a 'grandmother effect' - that is, the longer they live, the more they are able to support their daughters and their grandchildren, thereby creating an environment in which more grandchildren are born.
"The reverse of this is that women who die earlier - such as from breast or ovarian cancer, which are usually post-menopausal - will no longer be able to support their daughters and grandchildren. This has the effect of limiting the number of grandchildren born, and therefore the chances of passing on the mutated genes from one generation to the next is also limited," Dr da Silva says.
However, the "grandmother effect" does not entirely negate the increased fertility caused by breast cancer genes, he says.
"Our change to today's industrial and technological age has been relatively rapid in human history. For most of our existence, we have been hunter-gatherers. During this time, female fertility was limited, and this may have reduced the increase in fertility caused by mutations of these genes."
Dr da Silva says further studies examining modern-day hunter-gatherer societies might shed more light on how and why the spread of these genetic mutations occurs across generations.Dr Jack da Silva
Dr Jack da Silva | Newswise Science News
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22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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