When you consider we’ve yet to see a female president in the U.S. and that women make less money than their male counterparts, the saying “Its a Man’s World” sounds pretty accurate. But ladies do have one pretty distinct advantage over men: they live longer.
As far as records show, women have always outlived men. According to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, this is true for every year for all 38 countries included in the Human Mortality Database, which dates back to 1751. Just look to Sweden, the country with the best preserved records. The life expectancy at birth in the 1800s was 33 years for women and 31 for men. Today it’s 83.5 years for women and 79.5 for men. Despite all the diseases and natural disasters that have occurred over the centuries, this separation between males and females has remained constant.
While we can try to blame lifestyle for the gap, you’d be surprised how much biological differences matter. These are three reasons why women tend to outlive men.
1. Men don’t have an extra X chromosome
The U.S. National Library of Medicine explains women have two X chromosomes and men have one X and one Y. And these combinations do more than just determine a human’s sex. According to The New York Times, women are at an advantage for longevity from the moment their cells begin to develop. The X chromosome provides over 1,000 genes to choose from while the Y chromosome offers fewer. Since biology shows the female body only uses one of the thread-like structures while shutting down the other, women have an extra sex chromosome to rely on if one is defective. Males don’t have this option, increasing their chances of developing genetic diseases linked to the X chromosome. Males also have a higher risk of developing disease due to cell malfunction that can come with age.
2. Testosterone may decrease life span
While testosterone is generally considered desirable, it may also shorten the length of a man’s life. The Washington Post says evidence suggests eunuchs, men who’ve been castrated, have historically lived longer than other males. The article cites one study involving institutionalized patients in Kansas conducted in 1969. Researchers saw an increase in lifespan by an average of 14 years among castrated men compared to those who were not castrated.
We seem something similar by looking at records from Korea. According to BBC, biologists examined records from the 1800s that allowed them to verify the lifespan of 81 castrated males, finding they lived roughly 20 years longer than other men. The story went on to say testosterone may benefit men in the short term by increasing strength and masculinity, but it may also increase risk of prostate cancer, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and other conditions that can negatively impact the length of life.
3. Men tend to develop cardiovascular disease earlier in life than women
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mentions heart disease is the main cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., men are more likely to develop it earlier in life. Why? Estrogen. The American Heart Association says estrogen increases the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) in females. This means women often have better cholesterol levels than men before menopause. Since the risk of heart disease doubles for those with high cholesterol levels, as mentioned by the CDC, men are more likely to develop cardiovascular issues earlier than women.