Why do women outlive men?

By The Health News Team | June 21, 2023
Active older couple outdoors

In industrialized nations, such as the U.S., women outlive men by five to 10 years. In fact, 85% of people who live to be 100 years old are women.

Why do women outlive men by so many years? There are four main factors, including:

Cardiovascular disease — Men are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other related diseases, such as stroke.

The double X chromosomes — Compared with men, women are less likely to develop conditions associated with genetic mutations, such as hemophilia.

Testosterone — Testosterone is responsible for aggressive driving and other risky behaviors, which make men more likely to die from causes related to accidents, violence or suicide.

Smoking and alcohol consumption — Men are more likely than women to engage in these behaviors, which have a negative impact on overall health.

Closing the longevity gap

Evidence shows that the longevity gap — the difference between the expected length of time men and women are expected to live — is closing as more men develop better health habits. One of the most important habits to note: Men are now more regularly monitoring their own health.

“Regular checkups are an important part of the health equation,” says Dr. Robert Eisenberg, a board-certified urologist affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital. “Along with watching for any changes in their health, men should talk to their doctors about how often they should be screened for certain diseases and conditions, including prostate cancer, skin cancer, colon cancer, high cholesterol and diabetes.”

Dr. Eisenberg offers five simple ways for men to live healthier and longer:

1

Eat a healthy diet.

Nutrition — paired with exercise — goes a long way in lowering cholesterol, preventing obesity, and reducing risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s important to eat more heart-healthy foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

2

Get physical.

Daily physical activity, even walking for 30 minutes, can make a difference in maintaining a healthy weight and improving heart health.

3

De-stress.

Stress is also recognized as a risk factor for heart disease. Whether it’s regular exercise, yoga, meditation or stress management classes, there are a number of ways to relieve daily stress.

4

Quit smoking or don’t start.

Being smoke-free significantly reduces the risk of deadly diseases, such as cancer, lung disease and stroke.

5

Cut down on drinking.

Reducing alcohol consumption lowers the risk of alcohol-related illness. Men under 65 should not drink more than two alcoholic beverages a day. Men over 65 should have no more than one drink a day.

“Making the right choices has a significant impact on health and longevity for men,” explains Dr. Eisenberg. “Biology and genetics play a relatively small part.”

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