It is a well-known fact that women live longer than men on average. According to the World Health Organization, the global average life expectancy for women is 74 years, while for men, it is 69 years. The reasons for this gender gap in life expectancy are complex and multifaceted, but they can be broadly categorized into biological, behavioral, and social factors. In this blog, we will delve deeper into these factors and explore why women live longer than men.
Here’s why women live longer than men
One of the primary reasons why women tend to live longer than men is biological. Women have two X chromosomes, while men have one X and one Y chromosome. This means that women have a backup copy of important genes that could protect them from diseases. For example, women have a higher number of immune-related genes on their X chromosomes, which could provide them with a stronger immune system. Additionally, women have a higher number of telomeres, which are protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that help prevent cell damage and ageing.
Another important factor that contributes to the longevity of women is lifestyle differences. Women tend to have healthier lifestyles than men, which could help explain why they live longer. Women are more likely to engage in regular exercise, eat a balanced diet, and avoid risky behaviours such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. For example, studies have found that women are less likely than men to smoke and are more likely to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. These lifestyle factors could help protect women from chronic diseases and other health problems that could reduce their lifespan.
Occupational hazards also play a role in why women live longer than men. Men are more likely to work in dangerous and physically demanding jobs, such as construction, mining, and firefighting. These jobs put men at a higher risk of injury and death, which could shorten their lifespan. Women are more likely to work in jobs that are less physically demanding and have a lower risk of injury or death, such as teaching or nursing. These jobs may not be as well-paid as some male-dominated jobs, but they could contribute to a longer lifespan.
Health Care Utilization
Women are more likely to seek out health care services and preventive care than men, which could also contribute to their longer lifespans. Women are more likely to have regular check-ups and screenings for diseases such as breast cancer and cervical cancer. They are also more likely to follow medical advice and take prescribed medications. Men, on the other hand, maybe less likely to seek out medical care or follow medical advice, which could result in untreated health problems and a shorter lifespan.
Hormonal differences between men and women may also contribute to differences in longevity. For example, estrogen has been shown to have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system, which may explain why women are less likely to develop heart disease than men. Testosterone, on the other hand, may increase the risk of heart disease in men. Additionally, men have higher levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which is associated with a higher risk of cancer.
Social factors such as social support and stress may also play a role in why women live longer than men. Women tend to have larger social networks and stronger support systems, which can help to reduce stress and promote better health. Men, on the other hand, maybe more likely to experience social isolation and loneliness, which can have negative effects on their physical and mental health. Additionally, women may be better at coping with stress and may have lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol.
The reasons why women live longer than men are complex and multifaceted. While some factors are biological, others are related to lifestyle, occupational hazards, health care utilization, hormonal differences, and social factors. Women’s longer lifespans can be attributed to a combination of these factors, and understanding them can help us develop strategies to promote healthier, longer lives for everyone. By addressing the differences in health behaviours, occupational risks, healthcare utilization and social support systems, we can help to close the gap in longevity between men and women.