Americans are living longer on average—with one in 20 women and one in 40 men who are currently 40 years old expected to reach their 100th birthday. And yet, while this is promising news, you may wonder why there is still a discrepancy between the two sexes, with women tending to live longer than men by almost 5 years on average, a statistic that hasn’t changed since 2011. Is it an inherent biological difference or do women practice more preventive care? The guide below explains several different schools of thought.
Why Women Tend to Outlive Men
1. Lower Proclivity for Risk-Taking
Males may be shortening their lives by taking unnecessary risks. Accidental injuries were the third-leading cause of death in United States men during 2015 and 2014, with the incidence of accidental injuries increasing between the two years. Testosterone is thought to be the cause of this, as it’s been positively linked to thrill-seeking behavior.
2. Better Social Networks
Women tend to prioritize relationships and emotional bonds more than men do, which leads to more extensive social networks and more emotionally-invested relationships. Having strong, positive social relationships has a positive effect on your short- and long-term health, beginning from a young age and accumulating throughout your life. Alternatively, feelings of loneliness can hinder cognitive ability, sleeping patterns, and one’s overall mental and physical wellbeing.
3. More Attentive Preventive Care
At least one study found that women visited their primary care physician substantially more often than men. In 2017, more men than women lacked health insurance coverage, with 14% of men and 11% of women being uninsured, implying again that males are missing out on crucial preventive care exams and screenings.
4. Biological Differences
Simple differences in genetics could play a role, too. Males and females have different chemical and hormonal compositions that could affect the aging process, which would explain findings that suggest men’s physical health begins to worsen before women’s does. Another biological aspect that could affect aging is genetic, as the fundamental makeup of average males and females is different: men have an X and a Y chromosome, whereas women have duplicate X’s. It’s clear that these chromosomes affect the body’s aging and the gap between gender life expectancy, but more research is needed to clarify the mechanisms responsible.
To give yourself the best chance of a long, healthy life, exercise, eat healthily, and visit a doctor for regular preventive care. The team at Santiam Hospital offers short wait times and compassionate service to residents of Stayton, OR, and the surrounding areas. Learn about their comprehensive list of services on their website. Or call (503) 769-2175 to schedule an appointment.