Are you a boy or a girl? If you are a girl, CONGRATULATIONS! you are going to live longer than men. You have a longer life expectancy than your male colleagues. And you still don’t hesitate to accept life as a fair game. Life is not a fair game because there is a bias based on gender in life expectancy. We will be discussing a gap in life expectancy between women- men and try to find out why women live longer than men.
Women live longer than men
As soon as I was born, I was guaranteed to die earlier than about half of the babies born at that time. The reason behind this is my sex.
The research has proven that I am going to die around three to four years earlier than a baby girl born on the same day.
But why should I die earlier? Is it because of the curse of God or there are some underlying causes behind women living longer than men or the lower life expectancy of men like me?
Wherever you go on this planet you will observe one mystery-women live longer than men or have a longer life expectancy than men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy of a man and a woman is 76 years and 81 years respectively.
The WHO’s HALE index shows that American men and women can live up to 67 and 70 years respectively. Similarly, an average Australian baby boy born in 2020 lives up to 80 years, whereas an Australian baby girl born on the same day dies in 85 years.
The gender gap in life expectancy is not only common in Americans and Australians. This is true for all communities around the globe. Some experts claim this phenomenon to be true in the great apes also. Why do women live longer than men?
As far as our knowledge is concerned, there are some biological and non-biological factors to put blame on. The key biological factor is the testosterone hormone in males. However, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarette, and playing with risk are non-biological factors of difference in life expectancy.
Facts About Why Women Live Longer than men
The hormone found in males, also called male sex hormone- testosterone, is the major factor that could shorten the life span or life expectancy. According to research done at Duke University, the elevated male sex hormone levels drives male to risky behaviors and these behaviors are prominent causes of reducing the life expectancy of male.
Another research was done by Kyung-Jin Min, a professor of biological science at South Korean University. He found that male sex hormones also decrease immunity. Thus, it gives rise to the risk of heart diseases and cardiovascular anomalies.
Although there isn’t a clear link between testosterone and immune function, this lab research revealed that testosterone may block the release of disease-fighting immune cells in the body.
Role of Celibacy
Celibacy can increase the life span or life expectancy of males. In 2012, research was done in Korea and published in the journal Current Biology. This research was done on 81 Korean eunuchs: boys stop having sex and avoid them from producing testosterone. The study found that the cases tend to live around 15 years longer than other boys of similar age.
Another explanation of why women live longer than men or have long life expectancies is that women mostly suffer from diseases that are less likely to kill them. Migraines, asthma, arthritis are common in women.
But these are chronic non-fatal illnesses that possibly lead to poor health conditions. However, they are unlikely to lead to early demise and hence women live longer than men.
Biological Factors of Life Expectancy Gap
On the other hand, men mostly suffer from illnesses that are likely to kill them. For instance, most men have more fat that surrounds their internal organs- visceral fat.
In contrast, more fat is seen under the skin of women which is called subcutaneous fat. Although subcutaneous fat is not fatal, visceral fat is the major risk factor to cause coronary heart diseases. It may lead to the death of men around the globe.
Many studies show that the female sex hormone, estrogen acts as a protective factor for various coronary heart diseases in women. Data reveals the prevalence of coronary heart diseases three times more in men than women of age before menopause.
This indicates the protective action of estrogen in women and the vital role of estrogen in longer life expectancy.
Other Factors on Life Expectancy Gap
Some other non-biological factors that can lead to lower life expectancy are more common in teenage boys. These include accidental deaths from assault, poisoning, vehicle accidents, falls, and drownings. The greater tendency of eating poorly and avoiding exercise, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcohol is common in men. These can lead to fatal illnesses like stroke, type 2 diabetes, and dementia.
Men live two to three years less than women. It doesn’t mean men should worry about the fact. Everyone can improve this natural bias about life expectancy- women living longer than men through improvement in lifestyle and habits.
Both men and women should be conscious to have a healthy lifestyle in order to have a happy, healthy, and longer life span. Health should be the prime goal of every human being not the number of years to live.
- Tom E, et al. (2007) Why do women live longer than men?
- Esbetan O, et al. (2018) Why do women live longer than men?
- Elizabeth A, et al. (2017) National Vital Statistics Reports
- Stephen H, et al. (1998) Randomized Trial of Estrogen Plus Progestin for Secondary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease in Postmenopausal Women [Source]