Male animals are the sickliest gender. According to a study conducted at the Institute of Ecology at the National University of Mexico (UNAM), researchers found that males use their energy in the competition to reproduce, so their immune system weakens allowing infectious diseases and their early death.
"One of the big differences between males and females is that the former invest to have as many children as possible, so more energy is directed to sexual characteristics to attract mates, like the singing, color and courtship behavior, making their immune system depressed, allowing to contract diseases and die. Meanwhile, the main activity of females even though they have children, are not as many as males do, so their energy levels between various functions neglecting less their immune system," explained Alejandro Cordoba Aguilar, expert in evolutionary ecology.
The background of this work was a study by the American researcher Marlene Zuk, who defined it is more common for males to host parasites when their immune system is weak, that is why they die younger.
The team, which also includes Roberto Munguia-Steyer, conducted the research "The sickliest sex: understanding the bias in parasitic infections, distribution of resources and adequacy in males," developed in Morelos, south center state of Mexico, observing 10 species of dragonflies of both sexes in adulthood and infected with parasites.
"The males were given different amounts of food and parasites. We note that when they eat good food the parasite process continues, while a well-fed female defends better," said the university academic.
In addition, the researchers measured the amount of lipids, ie, the energy stored in the muscles of dragonflies, and found that females can have up to 0.5 milligrams more than males.
Is important to highlight that according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), in 2013 there were 342k deaths among men and slightly more than 269k deaths among women in Mexico, so this research may help public health.
"We conclude that the males die sooner because we host more parasites. We use food in a different way, spend it on sexual functions while females use it in a more balanced way, for an immune response, defense against pathogens and other functions including sex. Thus, knowing the genetic differences help us understand how to remedy why men are more susceptible and seek medical treatment, " concluded the scientist.
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