Why can't a woman be more like a man?
Posted on Dec 11, 2018
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It is a fairly well-known statistic that women live longer than men and, according to the World Economic Forum, this is the case without a single exception, in all countries. Looking at this logically, in some ways it doesn’t make sense. As the organisation explains, women are more likely to be victims of violence, earn less than men and, in many countries, they don’t have the same human rights as men. Yet, they always live longer than their male counterparts wherever they are in the world, regardless of their circumstances.
There are a range of different factors at play here. Women have biological advantages that enable them to live longer – such as less ‘bad’ cholesterol. And while women tend to have more chronic diseases, they tend to not kill them, while men have more fatal conditions. Women, for example, have more arthritis, which does not kill them, while men are more at risk from heart disease – which can be fatal.
Attitude is also important. Research has shown that women are more health conscious and they communicate more about their problems. They are more likely to chat to a friend about a health worry and be encouraged to make a visit to a GP. While ladies are chatting, testosterone puts men at risk biologically and behaviourally. Evidence shows that they are more likely then to take risks and, therefore, have accidents – because they tend to be risk takers and impulsive. Across the world, men indulge more in drugs and alcohol.
Another issue, which has been highlighted in the media over recent months, is suicide. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics in the UK (ONS) UK males accounted for three-quarters of suicides registered in 2017 (4,382 deaths). The World Economic Forum sates that in most countries, men are more likely to die by suicide. In the US, men are 3.5 times more likely than women to do so.
It would be easy to assume that elderly women are healthier than their male counterparts since they tend to live longer – but new research from the University of Exeter shows that this is not the case. In fact, women suffer poorer health as they age.
Scientists discovered that genes gained by women when they go through the menopause are actually bad for their health. In contrast, men, who stay fertile for a lot longer, see their bodies maintaining themselves better beyond middle age.
Today in the UK, life expectancy for a woman is 82.9 and for a man it’s 79.2, but despite living longer, ladies are more likely to see their quality of life eroded through ill health.
Once the menopause has occurred, women will no longer be able to pass their genes on to children, so have evolved to produce fewer. Men can father children for much longer, so keep producing genes that would benefit a child, which aids their own health in the long run.
Professor Hosken, co-author of the University of Exeter study says that survival and health are not the same thing.
At the end of the day, we are all human and none of us – male or female – can entirely predict how our health will fair in the future and whether we will need long-term care of some type.
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