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6 Reasons Why Women Live Longer Than Men

Why Do Women Live Longer Than Men?

On average, women live about 5 years longer than men. This could be because women have 2 sets of genes and can cope better with cell damage or because they have estrogen, which exerts a protective function on the nerves and the heart. In addition to this, women in general have better lifestyle habits.

Average Life Expectancy: Men Vs Women

 

  • In the USA, women live 5 years longer
  • In Sweden, women live 4 years longer
  • In France, women live 7.8 years longer
  • In the UK, women live 5.8 years longer
  • In Australia, women live about 4.4 years longer.
  • In India and Bangladesh, the difference is as low as 0.6 or 0.1 years.

Of the many studies that science has conducted so far, several are dedicated to understanding and charting out the average lifespan of human beings based on their gender. And each of them has concluded that, on an average, women live 5 years longer than men.

Researchers have postulated that, beyond plain old genetics, several reasons like psychology, health conditions, and hormones account for this difference in life expectancy. We’ve listed them all out for you below.

1. Women Have Lower Lifestyle-Related And Occupational Risk

Research indicates that men are more prone to drinking alcohol and smoking compared to women. This could lead to various other disorders which affect their life span.

Traditionally, more men have been engaged in occupations that often involve life risk, such as working in mines, construction work, tasks involving heavy lifting, and long-distance driving, which has contributed to their lower life expectancy. With diminishing examples of gender stereotyping, however, women are becoming a part of every industry; yet, some hazardous professions still have a male majority.1

2. Women Have Better Lifestyle And Lower Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases

Smoking and alcohol put men at an increased risk of getting cardiovascular diseases. The mortality of men increases by 40% with increased chances of getting arteriosclerosis due to smoking. This also elevates their risk of having a stroke. Studies also show that women have better stress handling capabilities compared to men, which is yet another reason of decreased risk in women. Women tend to face these problems between age 70 and 80, while men become a victim of these between age 50 and 60.

3. Women Have 2 Copies Of Each Gene

Chromosomes come in pairs, and while females have 2 X chromosomes, men have X and Y chromosomes. This gives women an advantage. Having 2 X chromosomes means that women have 2 copies of each gene, and, as cells age, if one of the genes gets damaged, the other could act as a back up. The absence of another X chromosome in men negates the chance of having a backup, leading to continuous aging of cells and making them more susceptible to diseases.

4. Women Have Estrogen Which Has A Protective Effect

Estrogen is a female hormone that regulates various body activities. It also acts as an antioxidant and removes metabolic byproducts called free radicals that damage cells and hasten cell aging. Experiments conducted on animals show that female animals deprived of estrogen heal slowly when diseased, as the cell repair process is affected.

Estrogen also eliminates bad cholesterol and plays an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Recent studies show that estrogen may play a vital role in the functioning of the liver, which is responsible for cholesterol digestion. Estrogen’s nerve-protecting properties also delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in women.

5. Women Have Low Risk Of Testosterone Toxicity

Testosterone is a hormone found in both men and women. It is responsible for the mental and physical health of men, accounting for muscle and bone mass, and impacts their sex drive. It is present in very minimal amounts in women. During late teenage and the 20s, men undergo a process called “testosterone storm” which could lead to aggressive behavior and actions. They tend to have an increased risk-taking ability during this phase, making themselves a prey to accidents, depression, or suicide.

Such behavior-related fatalities prevail in men even at an older age. Studies show that this could double their risk of dying in an accident or quadruple the risk of taking their own life. Researchers define this hormone-related mortality as “testosterone toxicity,” which increases the levels of bad cholesterol and decreases the levels of good cholesterol. This makes men more prone to heart disease and stroke.

6. Women May Have An Evolutionary Advantage

Some studies provide the backing of Darwin’s theory of evolution – “the survival of the fittest” to prove that nature favors the longevity of women. Since bringing up the young one requires a persistent investment of energy, nature supports the long lifespan of females in all species. Research shows that not just in human beings, female sperm whales outlive their male counterparts by an average of 30 years.

Having said that, each of us has an option of making lifestyle choices that are healthier and keep us happy. Irrespective of the gender, following an active and healthy lifestyle, which includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, giving up on alcohol or smoking, could increase your lifespan!

References   [ + ]

1. Waldron, Ingrid. “Why do women live longer than men?.” Social Science & Medicine (1967) 10, no. 7-8 (1976): 349-362.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.