14/04/08

Sex cuts your appetite: diet lessons from mosquitoes

Researchers hoping to prevent dengue fever have discovered that male mosquitoes manipulate the females they have sex with. Apparently, their semen is rich with proteins that cut down on a female’s appetite, slashing her desire to go off and suck down more mammals’ blood. It’s when mosquitoes bite mammals, including humans, that they pass on dengue fever, so less biting ought to mean less disease. I’d be happy about that — friends believe they have been felled by dengue contracted at my outdoor dinner table in Jakarta. But it’s good news too for two thirds of the world’s population stalked by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

I’m wondering (hopefully) if the research might have other implications for humans. Sex as an appetite suppressant. I don’t think that would be a hard sell in the diet industry.

mosquito.jpg

The Cornell University researchers also found that males play another, dirtier trick during sex. They pass on proteins that cut down the female’s sex drive. Presumably, this is so that they don’t zip off and have sex with some other male, carrying his genes into the next generation instead. That’s one thing we wouldn’t want to encourage in humans.

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This post was published on 14/04/08 in Good sex and bad, Science.

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