Why do men usually live shorter lives than women?

Golbally, men tend to die sooner than women. Moreover, for many of the leading causes of death, men tend to have higher death rates than women. In the USA, for example, women live, on average, a little more than five years longer than men. Researchers continuue to explore the causes of this difference in life expectancy. The answer may lie in both biological and behavioral differences between men and women.

The leading cause of death in the United States and in many other countries is coronary heart disease (CHD). The fact that men tend to develop CHD up to 15 years earlier than women may explain, in part, why they tend to die sooner. Some of the possible explanation for this difference is CHD between men and women include the following:

  1. More men than women smoke.
  2. Up to a certain age, men tend to a have higher incidence of hypertension.
  3. Men tend to have lower levels of the good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) and higher levels if the bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) relative to women.
  4. Men often have higher rates of abdominal obesity, which has been associated with higher CHD rates.
The second leading cause of death in the United States is cancer. Overall, men have a cancer death rate 1.5 times that of women. Because lung cancer death rate may in part be a product of men using tobacco products more often than women.

In terms of behavioral differences, men tend to have much higher death rates from violent causes, such as car injuries, firearm injuries, homicide, and suicide. Such differences may be caused by men's riskier behaviors related to alcohol consumption, illegal substance abuse, aggressive driving, etc.

Finally, some studies have pointed out that men are less likely than women to see a doctor when symptoms arise. Delaying treatment until a condition worsens may in part explain the difference in death rates between the sexes.

Overall, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, simple lifestyle changes may help prolong your life. Talk to your family doctor about possibly having a CHD risk assessment performed and how changes in your diet and physical activity may help you increase the quality and length of your life.

More By  :  Dr. Chetan Chopra

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