WHY DO WOMEN LIVE LONGER THAN MEN?, Michael Silverstein, MD (Digital)

By on June 7, 2019

Women’s health has come a long way in making sure women can live long, successful, healthy lives. That being said, there’s still the conundrum of why women regularly live longer than men, especially when this hasn’t always been the case. It’s believed that there are a few different factors that contribute to a rise in female life expectancy all around the world that are both biological and societal. Let’s examine some of these factors so you can know what to expect in the years to come.

The impact of hormones

When it comes to the health of men and women, we should never discount the effect that hormones can have. One theory is that the difference in hormones and chromosomes has an impact on health over time. Where it’s believed that men often experience greater rates of cardiovascular disease and decreased immune function because of testosterone and only a single X chromosome, this can also mean that women are better protected because of the functions of estrogen and an additional X chromosome. This could be attributed to the female role in reproduction when it comes to protecting and rearing a child.

The impact of behavior

Although there’s some debate on how much hormones influence our behavior, there are many behavioral factors that seem to affect life expectancy in men particularly. This can include things like a higher rate of risk factors like smoking, excessive drinking, and being overweight. Additionally, men are less likely to seek early treatment for health concerns and comply with treatment, as well as more likely to participate in riskier behavior. All of these factors can add up over time, contributing to an earlier death than many women.

What does life expectancy show?

All the way back in 1900, women had a life expectancy of only 48.3 years, and much of this rate included causes like childhood infectious diseases. However, if a woman had lived to 65 (and relatively few did) in 1900, she could have expected to live an additional 12.2 years. Conversely, if a woman was born in 1990, her life expectancy is more than 79 years. If she celebrated her 65th birthday in 1990, she can expect to live another 19.5 years (84.5 years on average).

By 2050, however, a woman born that year will have a life expectancy of 83.6 years. If she celebrates her 65th birthday in 2050, she can anticipate 23.1 more years of life (88.1 years). This means you can generally look forward to a long, healthy life with the right positive steps.

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