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
Researchers find new mutation in the leptin gene
24.06.2019 | Texas Biomedical Research Institute
Straight to the heart
24.06.2019 | Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft
From June 25th to 27th 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau (Germany) will be presenting a new solution for acoustic quality inspection allowing contact-free, non-destructive testing of manufactured parts and components. The method which has reached Technology Readiness Level 6 already, is currently being successfully tested in practical use together with a number of industrial partners.
Reducing machine downtime, manufacturing defects, and excessive scrap
The quality of additively manufactured components depends not only on the manufacturing process, but also on the inline process control. The process control ensures a reliable coating process because it detects deviations from the target geometry immediately. At LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be demonstrating how well bi-directional sensor technology can already be used for Laser Material Deposition (LMD) in combination with commercial optics at booth A2.431.
Fraunhofer ILT has been developing optical sensor technology specifically for production measurement technology for around 10 years. In particular, its »bd-1«...
The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified
The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...
Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.
Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...
Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.
The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...
24.06.2019 | Event News
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
24.06.2019 | Event News
24.06.2019 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
24.06.2019 | Life Sciences