Women health

Why female life expectancy is higher

While it has long been known that women live longer than males, experts have attributed this to lifestyle differences for years. Researchers in the expanding subject of "geroscience," or the study of aging, are already uncovering some of the genetic and molecular variables that contribute to the longevity disparity.

Why do females live longer than males?

It is common knowledge, according to Ansberry, that women outlast males. Men's life expectancy was 76.1 years in 2017, while women's life expectancy was 81.1 years.

According to studies, the longevity disparity will widen further. Women's life expectancy is expected to reach 87.3 years by 2060, compared to 83.9 years for men, according to the US Census Bureau.

However, Marcia Stefanick, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, noted that while researchers are aware that "men and women age differently," they are still "guessing how."

According to Ansberry, some of the variables could be behavioral. Some studies have indicated that when women are sick, they are more likely to see a doctor. And Katharine Esty, an 85-year-old psychologist who interviewed 128 people in their eighties for her book "Eightysomethings," discovered that while "guys will still eat steak and order French fries," aging women put in more effort to keep healthy.

The science underlying the gap

According to David Sinclair, co-director of Harvard Medical School's Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research, the discrepancies cannot be attributed exclusively to lifestyle and behavioral variances. "A lot of people assume males don't live as long because they smoke and work harder jobs," Sinclair said, "but there are genetic and biological differences as well."

Nir Barzilai, head of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, discovered that men's protein levels altered at a faster rate than women's after studying their blood between the ages of 65 and 95. According to the study, men's protein levels changed 600 times while women's changed 277 times, indicating that "female biology appears to be more stable than men's," according to Barzilai.

Separately, Michael Ullman, a Georgetown University neurology professor, discovered that a person's sex may impair declarative memory, or the capacity to recall specific events or where one's vehicle keys were left. According to Ullman's research, men and women scored similarly on a memory test involving image recollection until they reached the age of 70 when a "substantial feminine advantage emerged."

Ullman also discovered that schooling has a more positive influence on memory ability in women than in males. He said, "The sex difference was pretty striking."

According to Ansberry, a person's gender may influence how they respond to Covid-19, a novel coronavirus-related disease.

For example, one recent study discovered that men lose antibody-producing B cells in their blood after the age of 65, but women do not. The researchers also discovered that as males became older, they had more blood inflammation, which is linked to serious Covid-19 instances.

According to Ansberry, women do not enjoy all of the biological advantages. According to Susan Cheng, a cardiologist at Cedars-Smidt Sinai's Heart Institute, research suggests that women's blood pressure rises earlier and faster than men's. Cheng discovered that women's blood vessels age faster than men's in a study published this year.

"It was assumed that women just caught up to males in terms of cardiovascular risk, not that they have different biology and physiology," Cheng explained. They do, though, and the findings may explain why women report various types of cardiovascular problems with different symptoms.

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