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Why Do Women Live Longer Than Men?

08th Jul 2015

Businesswoman laughing in meeting

Most people will agree that women tend to live longer than men, but do we really know why? Is it fate’s comeuppance for the fact that we live in a male-dominated world? May as well allow us women have the last word? No, not quite, though we may be on to something there.

According to a new study from the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, via Science Daily, it was noted that death rates began to plummet during the 1800s and early 1900s as disease prevention became widespread, along with moderately improved diets and other more health conscious behaviours. Interestingly, at the same time, it became apparent that women were faring much better than men in terms of life expectancy. Looking specifically at mortality in adults over the age of 40, researchers found that female death rates decreased 70% faster than those of males after 1880.

This study examined an enormous amount of global data, focusing on the lifespans of people born between 1800 and 1935 in 13 developed nations, with much evidence pointing towards heart disease as the major culprit with adult male mortality rates.

“We were surprised at how the divergence in mortality between men and women, which originated as early as 1870, was concentrated in the 50 to 70 age range and faded out sharply after age 80,” said the study’s lead author.

At first, those involved in the study expected smoking-related illnesses to be the key factor in male adult mortality however, as per Science Daily, even when the researchers set controls for smoking, cardiovascular disease came out on top. In fact, smoking accounted for only 30 percent of the difference in mortality between the sexes after 1890.

These days, the trend still holds strong, with women outliving men by roughly five to six years, according to The Scientific American. “By age 85 there are roughly six women to every four men. At age 100 the ratio is more than two to one. And by age 122?the current world record for human longevity?the score stands at one-nil in favor of women.”

Other studies have suggested that perhaps men put?themselves into an early grave due to the stress from working too hard, which may be the driving force behind the heart-related illnesses as discovered in the aforementioned study. While this hypothesis may send many a woman into an aggressive tizzy, what we’re taking from this is that it’s not that men work harder than women, it’s that women handle stress better.

In order to balance out the scales then, best point the men in your life towards some stress management techniques, foods that help rather than hinder your heart and as for the fags? Well, we don’t need to list out the reasons not to smoke, do we?

As for the women reading this article? Keep up the good work.

Science Daily

Scientific American

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