Stories

Scientists quadruple number of known factors in puberty

Mike Groll / AP

A new study shows there are 389 specific genetic signals involved in the timing of puberty — four times the amount previously known.

  • Key detail: The researchers identified rare variations in two genes that lower the age of puberty when inherited from the father but have no effect when inherited from the mother. The finding suggests there may be different evolutionary benefits to parents of puberty starting earlier or later in their children.
  • Methodology: Researchers from the University of Cambridge analyzed the genomes of 370,000 women from earlier studies.
  • What's next: The researchers also found genetic evidence that links earlier timing of puberty to a greater risk of some cancers — breast, ovary and endometrial cancers in women and prostate cancer in men — that are sensitive to sex hormones later in life. However, more research needs to be done to identify the exact mechanisms and extent of the increased risk.