The question of who is the superior sex is a contentious one. Although most men might be physically stronger than most women, women outlive men by an average of 7 years, which may mean men are losing the battle of the sexes.
To put that into perspective, 57% of the population over 65 are women, and 67% over the age of 85 are women too. Harvard Health doctor Robert Shmerling says that in the US, you only have to look at the residents of assisted living facilities to see that women outnumber men.
Is it because men are fragile?
Do their bodies work differently? Are they less resilient to stress, infection or disease?
The answer is yes.
The male Y chromosome may be to blame
A study of 3 200 men published by the American Journal of Human Genetics shows that a loss of the Y chromosome (or LOY) may have a relatively large influence over why women outlive men. Men genetically have an XY chromosome pair, while women have an XX pair.
The evidence gathered during the study suggests it has to do with a change in a man’s immune system as this Y chromosome is lost from the blood cells as men grow old. Because women don’t have a Y chromosone they don’t — or can’t — suffer the same fate.
The study says it’s linked to a significantly higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s and cancer. The Alzheimer’s risk in particular was most significant — men are 7 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. While there’s a strong link between loss of the Y chromosome and changes in the immune system, this is not the whole story. There are many other theories that suggest why men are more likely to die before women.
Other reasons why men may not live as long as women
1. Men take more risks
Shmerling says one part of the brain responsible for controlling judgement and considering the effect of an action develops slower in men. This can contribute to lack of judgement and detrimental decisions that may not only lead to death, but also to consuming more alcohol and taking up smoking, he says in a Harvard Health article.
2. More men smoke
We know that more men smoke than women. Previous research by scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden who conducted the loss of the Y chromosome study showed how smoking affects men and their Y chromosome. Those who smoke have a 400% higher risk of losing their Y chromosome than those who don’t, and this increases their risk of disease.
3. Men are generally larger
A bigger body isn’t conducive to longevity, explains Dr Vincent Giampapa. People over 1.8m tall don’t live as long as shorter people, he says. A 2014 study of over 585,000 Europeans found that shorter people also are less likely to develop cancer and several chronic diseases.
4. Men don’t think they need to go to the doctor
In a Huffington Post article, some of the reasons men gave for avoiding the doctor were that they were too busy, they didn’t want to know if something was wrong, they were uncomfortable with physical exams, and they didn’t want to be asked personal questions by their doctor. This means many men go untreated for treatable conditions they may be suffering from, which can have fatal consequences like a heart attack or stroke.
Read more: 7 symptoms you should never ignore
5. Men have lower oestrogen levels
Women have higher oestrogen levels than men, which means they are at a lower risk of developing heart disease. Oestrogen makes their arteries more flexible, so they’re less prone to damage because of inflammation or cholesterol build-up. Men have to work harder to keep this damage at bay, and are thus more susceptible to disease as a result of fatty plaque build-up in their circulatory systems.
3 things men can do to live as long as women
1. Stop smoking and cut back on alcohol consumption
Smoking is a huge risk factor for loss of the Y chromosome, so simply quitting could lower your risk of all-cause mortality by a significant amount. Take alcohol out of the picture and you lower your risk of making poor judgement calls and suffering the consequences of irresponsible actions.
2. Have regular health checks
There’s no way around taking charge of your health without visiting your doctor regularly. Having regular health checks is one of the easiest and most important ways for you to find out whether your health is in danger. It can mean making the necessary changes to ameliorate the risk of disease before it becomes more serious or even fatal.
3. Work at modifying your health risks
Now that men know they are more susceptible to heart disease and stroke because of lower oestrogen levels, they can take the necessary precautions to keep their blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. Simple diet and lifestyle changes can play a significant role in boosting heart and overall health.
Republished from e|Care, an online portal for health and wellness by Health|Insite. Website: www.healthinsite.net. Tel: 0861 066 666