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Tibetans living at high altitudes have red blood cell levels and hemoglobin levels similar to those of lowlanders at sea level — and as a consequence of the low oxygen levels at those altitudes, Tibetans live with 10% less oxygen in their blood than most other people. Lower oxygen levels might seem like a disadvantage, yet highland women have fewer fertility problems than lowlanders living at high altitudes, have better blood flow to the uterus during pregnancy, and deliver heavier, healthier babies.

Can anyone explain how relatively lower oxygen levels can contribute to "better blood flow" etc. in higher altitude populations such as the Tibetans?

The article said it is unknown how exactly this may happen, but does anyone have an idea how it could be possible?

Read more here

Moore, L.G., D. Young, R.E. McCullough, T. Droma, and S. Zamudio. 2001. Tibetan protection from intrauterine grown restriction (IUGR) and reproductive loss at high altitude. American Journal of Human Biology 13:635-644. Beall, C.M. 2003. High-altitude adaptations. The Lancet 362:14-15.

  • It seems to me that if the oxygen partial pressure is a lot lower and you want to maintain the same oxygen concentration in your blood then that requires more work for your body which may not be the optimal thing to do. If the ambient conditions are too far away from the usual norm, then you're probably going to be better off by allowing some changes. – Count Iblis Sep 12 '16 at 20:45

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