Research highlight

Gene variants to set your biological clock by

Nature Genetics

May 18, 2009

Genes may provide some clues to the variation in the age at which a woman gets her first and last menstrual period according to five independent studies published online this week in Nature Genetics.

Reproductive lifespan is a fundamental mystery of the aging body and these two landmark events of the biological clock are powerful predictors of health outcomes such as personal lifetime risks of breast cancer and osteoporosis.

These studies find that the timing contribution of each gene variant identified was small relative to the range naturally found among women, but some of the same variants are also found associated with height and body weight.

The onset of puberty in particular is also strongly influenced by environmental factors such as nutrition and athletic training and this research provides new ways to investigate how these characteristics influence one another.

doi: 10.1038/ng.382

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