Across the world, women typically live five to six years longer than men. By the age of 85 there are approximately six women to every four men. Among the people over 100 years old, about 85% of them are women. The current world record for human longevity belongs to a woman. So why can the average woman on the planet expect live about five years longer than the average man? There is no clear cut answer to this question, but there are several theories and reasons that play into the fact women typically outlive men.
One contributing reason to women living longer is that cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke typically develop for women about 10 years later than men. Why this is the case is another mystery in itself. Some researchers believe it has to do with lifestyle choices of women over men. Men typically engage in several detrimental behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and eating high cholesterol foods way more than women. Women also have been thought to deal with stress better than men who tend to internalize it rather than let it go. Stress can play an important role in cardiovascular disease.
Another more complicated possibility for women’s longer life spans could be that women have two X chromosomes and men only have one. In women cells that go through aging and damage can perhaps be protected by a slightly better variation of a gene on the second X chromosome, and men don’t have this “back-up” X chromosome.
A third reason for women outliving men could be that men typically live riskier lives than women. Sometimes blamed on levels of testosterone (or that Y chromosome), men can partake in some pretty dangerous behavior such as not wearing seatbelts, drinking too much alcohol, being aggressive with weapons, etc. Men are more likely to die from violence, accidents, or neglecting medical care than women.
Another area where the death rate can be higher among men (especially older men) is in the depressed. If the depression gets bad enough to lead to attempted suicide, men are typically more likely to succeed in these attempts than women.
Both men and women can take steps towards a longer, healthier life. By exercising, eating right, reducing stress, and avoiding risky behaviors both men and women can help improve their life expectancy.