Why Women Live Longer

Across the globe, women still live 5 to 10 years longer than men. Founder of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University explains why 85% of people over 100 years old are women. One large reason is the large advantage women have over men in terms of cardiovascular disease. Women develop symptoms like heart attacks and strokes usually in their 70s and 80s, compared to men who develop them in their 50s and 60s. Doctors long believed the difference was due to estrogen, but studies show that this may not be the case.

One reason for the delay in the onset of cardiovascular disease could be that women are very iron deficient compared to men. Especially younger women in their teens and early 20s - because of menstruation. Iron plays a strong role in the reactions in our cells that produce damaging free radicals. These agents attach themselves to membranes and DNA and potentially age the cell.

In our diets, red meat is the main source of iron and the lack of iron is one reason being vegetarian is healthy for you. Another more complicated explanation lie in women's two X chromosomes, versus men's XY combination. As we age cells have a choice in terms of gene selection.

 If one variation of expressed genes offers survival advantages for one cell over another, then the cell with the advantage will persist and the other will die off leaving more cells with the gene on the more advantageous X chromosome. Women have the possibility of a slightly better variation of a gene on a second X chromosome, which can perhaps protect cells. Men don't have this luxury and are stuck with only one choice.

 In general, there are three ways men do worsen their health more than women. They smoke alot more. They eat more food that leads to high cholesterol. And men tend not to deal with their stress as well as women. They are more prone to internalizing stress rather than letting it go. Both stress and poor diet play important roles in cardiovascular disease.


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