Men love to brag about their abilities, especially when it comes to sports. But women trump men in one major category, probably the most important one: they outlive men. In the United States the life expectancy for women is about 81.2 years, while men average 76.4 years. Sorry guys, but that’s about a pretty significant difference.
The good news is that both men and women have seen some remarkable gains in their life expectancy, particularly since the early 1900’s. During that time, the average national increase has been about 71 percent for women and 66 percent for men.
So why do women live longer than men? Some speculate that the rapid changes in medicine and how doctors treat diseases has helped increase overall life expectancy for both men and women, along with changes in lifestyle and behaviors.
Scientists have tried to explain this disparity, but so far any correlation to biological and genetic factors can’t be measured in relation to longevity and life expectancy. Some theorize that testosterone in males and estrogen in women may influence mortality differences. There is a lot of exciting research going on in the anti-aging medicine specialty, and more is planned.
Others think that specific male behaviors can influence life expectancy such as smoking, eating foods high in cholesterol, and holding in stress, behaviors that are far less prevalent in women.
What can men do to close the gap?
There has been a natural closing of the lifespan gap over the past several decades that have been attributed to women engaging more in the life and work stresses that were normally associated with men. Jobs that used to be most men now include women, in everything from police and firefighting to construction and industry. Women are also being exposed to more stress in the corporate world as they gain parity with men as CEOs and other high-ranking positions.
But to really close the gap, more changes need to be made. Men need to exercise more. This will help to reduce cortisol levels in the bloodstream from internalizing stress. High cortisol levels have been linked to heart disease and other health issues. Exercise will help to keep the weight off, which can help to reduce heart disease.
One of the biggest factors is smoking, and that’s a behavior that anyone can change. Quitting smoking is a key factor to increasing longevity. The final behavior modification is to avoid eating foods high in cholesterol. Men are beginning to eat a more nutritionally balanced diet that helps to reduce their cholesterol levels. For example, some are substituting chicken and fish for red meat, and eating a more balanced meal.
Here’s something else men should consider: hormone replacement therapy, also known as HRT. Since various research studies show a direct correlation between hormones and longevity, many men are now undergoing this treatment as an anti-aging medicine approach. There are many different approaches to HRT, and men should discuss which one is best for them with their healthcare professional.
With lifestyle changes and therapies, men can start looking forward to living to a ripe old age.