Certain types of mutations only have negative consequences when passed from women to their sons, according to studies.
en are doomed by their mothers - because women pass on genetic flaws which may explain why males die sooner, research suggests.
Scientists said there is increasingly compelling evidence to show that men are the weaker sex, because DNA passed on from their mothers can cause damage to male health.
A series of studies show that certain types of mutations only have negative consequences when passed from women to their sons.
Genetics experts dubbed the phenomenon "mother's curse" - and said the theory could explain why men have an overall shorter life expectancy than women.
Researchers from the University of Otago said studies in fruit flies and fish suggest that mutations in the genes of nuclear DNA only cause damage when passed from mothers to sons.
They say that in some respects men are a "evolutionary cul de sac" - because they can inherit such flaws yet do not pass them on.
The impact of defective mitochondrial DNA could affect men's health in several ways, researchers suggested, increasing the risk of several diseases, of the heart, muscles and nerves.
They said there was growing evidence to suggest the genetic inheritance could also impact on male fertility, and cognitive ability - and explain why men typically have a much shorter lifespan than women.
The average man can now expect to live to 79 and a half, while the average woman has a life expectancy of 83.3 years.
Speaking at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology's annual meeting in Lisbon, genetist Prof Neil Gemmell, from the University of Otago, said: "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.
"In a way, this is why you can blame your mother for absolutely everything," he said. "I think of males as being an evolutionary cul-de-sac in terms of mitochondrial DNA."