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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2011, Article ID 760978, 9 pages
Review Article

Reproductive Benefit of Oxidative Damage: An Oxidative Stress “Malevolence”?

1Laboratory for Oxidative Stress Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Zdravstvena Pot 5, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
2Institute of Pathophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
3Faculty for Maritime Studies and Transportation, University of Ljubljana, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Received 5 May 2011; Revised 9 June 2011; Accepted 28 July 2011

Academic Editor: José L. Quiles

Copyright © 2011 B. Poljsak et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


High levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) compared to antioxidant defenses are considered to play a major role in diverse chronic age-related diseases and aging. Here we present an attempt to synthesize information about proximate oxidative processes in aging (relevant to free radical or oxidative damage hypotheses of aging) with an evolutionary scenario (credited here to Dawkins hypotheses) involving tradeoffs between the costs and benefits of oxidative stress to reproducing organisms. Oxidative stress may be considered a biological imperfection; therefore, the Dawkins' theory of imperfect adaptation of beings to environment was applied to the role of oxidative stress in processes like famine and infectious diseases and their consequences at the molecular level such as mutations and cell signaling. Arguments are presented that oxidative damage is not necessarily an evolutionary mistake but may be beneficial for reproduction; this may prevail over its harmfulness to health and longevity in evolution. Thus, Dawkins' principle of biological “malevolence” may be an additional biological paradigm for explaining the consequences of oxidative stress.