Why Do Women Outlive Men?


It’s a fact that people today now live longer than they used to some decades ago. Some things that contributed to this increase in lifespan include societal developments, technological advancement, and an improvement in the healthcare sector, among others. However, despite these factors, diverse biological and behavioral differences have caused a discrepancy in life expectancy among people. 

Regarding gender, women tend to outlive men —in almost every society. The more developed countries see life expectancy for males pegged at 72 years for males, as against 79 years for females, and less developed countries record less, 66 years for females and 63 years for males.

So one question begs for an answer —why do women outlive men? 

Why Do Women Live Longer Than Men? 

According to research, the answer lies in the DNA of women, as it has been seen that women have better telomeric health than men. 

Telomeres, the endcaps of DNA strands that shield the chromosomes, are longer in females, even from the moment they are born. Researchers and experts have all established that telomeres are pertinent to a healthier, longer life. When the telomeres wear away, the DNA is damaged, and in turn, damaged DNA leads to a cut in life longevity. 

Elissa Epel, Ph.D., in her keynote address at the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), noted that studies had suggested an increment in telomerase activity, which is caused by exposure of the DNA strand to estrogen. Estrogen, which is the female sex hormone, helps the body to get rid of bad cholesterol (LDL), and this protects the body against cardiovascular diseases and other cholesterol-related ailments.

However, you should note that estrogen does not always protect telomeres from damage. Due to stress and chronic adversities that may have affected the person, the telomeres may lose length. Additionally, advancement in age may add additional stress to the body and DNA, which in turn may reduce the length of the telomeres.

Dr. JoAnn V. Pinkerton, the executive director of NAMS, noted that due to age, the telomeres might not be able to protect the chromosomes adequately. This may lead to a lack of replenishment in the cells, which causes the cells not to function correctly. Complications may then arise from this, which leads to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and other forms of diseases. 

Improving Your Telomeric Health 

Finally, any damage to your DNA does not have to be permanent. The telomerase can protect your DNA strands through a boost of the telomerase. The best way to boost the telomeres is by actively seeking better health. Eat healthily, exercise regularly, and ensure that you get at least seven hours of sleep.