Nautilus

Why Smelling the Opposite Sex Can Age You

It’s possible that sensing the presence of a female may effectively activate processes involved in reproduction, which might facilitate a male’s reproductive success if those females were around, but could increase aging as a consequence.Classic Film / Flickr

There’s the usual advice. If you want to live longer, exercise. Eat green vegetables. Avoid stress.

Oh—and be careful about smelling the opposite sex.

Scientists have known for some time that exposing flies and mice to pheromones of the opposite sex can change the pace at which the animals age. The question is, why does this happen?

Evolutionary biology provides one framework for understanding the effect, by positing a tradeoff between investing in reproduction on the one hand, and in repair and maintenance on the other. The framework also suggests an explanation for gender differences in aging: Since

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