Apparently being childless makes you look younger

By Nina Steele 

Being childless makes you look youngerTwice this year, I have been asked to confirm my age before I could purchase alcoholic drinks for my husband. It first happened earlier in the year, and I have to admit that I found the whole experience rather amusing, even when the cashier insisted on seeing some form of ID. Then the same thing happened again last week, in the same supermarket! Just like the first time, the cashier took a look at me and asked me as respectfully as she could, if I was old enough to purchase alcohol. Unlike the first time however, she took my word for it, when I told her that I was 41.

As I was putting my shopping away, she asked me if I had children, and when I said no, she said something along the lines of: “that explains it”. I smiled and turned the situation around by asking her whether she had children, to which she replied: “too many”.

As a black woman, I had until now attributed my ‘youthful’ look to the high level of melanin in my skin. I had not considered the impact of being a non-parent as well. And so I decided to do a bit of research on the validity of her claims.

As it turns out, she may have a point. Indeed, a new study published earlier this year, did find that having children does indeed cause a woman to age faster, and that the higher the number of children, the faster a woman will age. The main points we learn about the research are that: “The researchers tested 100 healthy postmenopausal women from five rural villages in southern Poland for biomarkers associated with accelerated aging” and that: “The study found that the women with higher gravidity — those who had experienced more pregnancies, more births, and spent more time lactating — had higher levels of the biomarkers for accelerated aging than women with lower gravidity”.

There would inevitably be those who will question the findings, based on the limited number of women who took part in the study. However, from a layperson’s point of view, the findings make sense. Parents often complain about increased levels of stress, brought on by among other things: lack of sleep, the constant worry about money, the everyday challenges of raising children, etc. Of course some of the issues such as worries about money do apply to childless people as well. However, it is fair to say that worrying about money when it is just you or just the two of you, is different to worrying about money when you are a family of four or five, or more.

I am understandably pleased with the findings, as they add to the list of the many perks that come with being a non-parent.

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