So why do Women Live Longer than Men?

Many a man will say (not always in jest) that women live longer than men because they are nagged to death. Other blokes will say they go first because they want to! But jibes aside, the fact of the matter is that women DO LIVE LONGER than their male counterparts – by up to a decade on average. They also get to retire earlier than men in most industrialised nations meaning they have more years to kick back and enjoy the good times after a lifetime of slog.

“Women live longer than men because they have no wife” ~ Unknown Quote

Happy Old WomanSorry Guys. Women are just Healthier for Longer

Research has shown that women don’t tend to suffer those killer diseases – such as heart attack and stroke – for up to 10 years later than their male counterparts. So just what is it that makes them the ‘stronger’ gender? One man we spoke to told us that shopping never causes heart attacks, whereas paying the bill does!

There certainly seems to be lots of jokes on this subject, so we needed to dig a little deeper to find the root cause of female longevity. It was no straightforward task!

After doing some research we found that this to be a complex and debated issue. Even gerontologists (health care professionals specializing in the elderly), don’t have any simple answers, but there are common indicators.

Gerontologists do, however, believe that around 30 percent of the difference can perhaps be explained with biology. The remaining 70 per cent could be attributed to environmental factors, although this is still a pretty vague explanation overall.

It’s all about the Kids Stupid!

Another theory, though somewhat divisive, is that women’s long-term survival has a higher importance than that of men because of their role as child bearers. Human offspring are highly dependent on adults for their survival until such times that they reach a certain age and are finally able to fend for themselves.

So over time women have evolved to survive longer so that they can raise their young to maturity. It comes back to that old belief that children need their mothers – first and foremost.

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Other Potential Explanations:

Oestrogen: It’s thought that the female hormone oestrogen offers protection against heart disease and the build-up of bad cholesterol. Men do have amounts of oestrogen in their body, but obviously not at levels which benefit their health.

Testosterone: The male sex hormone testosterone is said to increase levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), in the blood, and decreases levels of good cholesterol (HDL), thus putting men at higher risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

Violent Deaths: On average, men are 3 times more likely to die a violence death – of sorts – than women. In addition, men of all ages are four times more likely to die by suicide than females. Suicide among men peaks during middle age.

Hypertension: Abnormally high blood pressure, aka hypertension, is more common in men than it is in women. It is a major risk factor for a whole variety of life-threatening diseases.

Obesity: Overweight men and the many health complications that come with being heavy is higher in older men than it is in women.

Social Interaction: Men of middle age, and older, are less likely to socially engage with others than the more friendly female. It’s now a proven fact that regular interaction with friends and family is beneficial for long term health and wellbeing.

Medical Avoidance: Men are more reluctant to visit a doctor when their health falters, and when they do eventually go, it’s often too late. In other words, some men are dying prematurely by their reluctance to seek medical help in the early stages of a health problem.

Drinking and Smoking: Both alcohol and tobacco abuse are indulged more often, and in higher amounts, by men than by women. The harmful and often fatal health implications that inflict drinkers and smokers are too numerous to mention here.

Summary

The reasons why women live longer than men are many. In biological terms, women have been dealt a better hand than their male counterparts, so they will always live a bit longer than their menfolks – no matter what! Having said that, most men could increase their life expectancy considerably simply by embracing a healthier lifestyle.

About Andy Aitch

Musician, writer, netentrepreneur and founder of 50ish.org, the site created for uniting middle-aged men the world over.

Motto: a man is not old until his dreams become his regrets

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