© Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters
Women often live longer than men. However, this is not down to males working or drinking too much, rather it's due to DNA inherited from their mothers. Genetic experts call this the "mother's curse" as the defective genes can cause health problems in men.

Scientists say this shows that men are in fact the weaker sex and this could explain why women often outlive men. Statistically, the researchers may have a point, as statistics from Eurostat, which is the statistical office of the European Union, found that women outlive men in the bloc by 5.5 years on average.

The research was undertaken by the University of Otago in New Zealand. They conducted studies of fruit flies and fish for over a decade, with the research showing that mutations in DNA only were harmful when passed from mothers to their sons.

"I think of males as being an evolutionary cul-de-sac with respect to mitochondrial DNA. So we get it, we don't pass it on to our offspring and we just have to make the most of it," Professor Neil Gemmell from the University of Otago said, the Daily Mail reported.

Daughters are immune to the defective genes that are passed on from their mothers; however, the DNA can lead to sons developing heart, brain, muscle and nerve problems.

Gemmell made the claims at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology's annual meeting, which took place in Lisbon.

"I called it mother's curse - it's I guess an unfortunate accident of the maternal inheritance that means the male offspring are cursed, or bestowed with suboptimal mitochondrial types, because such DNA caused no problems in women," the University of Otago professor added.

However, Gemmell mentions that other factors need to be taken into account to explain why women statistically live longer than men and that males can't just blame bad genetics for their misfortune.

"The longevity gap is only two to five years. It's not enormous and there are all sorts of other factors that contribute to our shorter lives, like the fact that men don't go to the doctor and hide their problems," the genetic expert said.