“Lifespan: Why Women Live Longer”

Is it true that women live longer than their male counterparts and, if so, why? Steven Austad, Ph.D., and Kathleen Fischer, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham have searched for the answer to this riddle and published an article in Cell Metabolism. They said, “Humans are the only species in which one sex is known to have a ubiquitous survival advantage. Indeed, the sex difference in longevity may be one of the most robust features of human biology.” Researchers have found that other species, from roundworms and fruit flies to a spectrum of mammals, show lifespan differences that may favor one sex in certain studies. Contradictory studies with different diets, mating patterns or environmental conditions often flip that advantage to the other sex. With humans, however, it appears to be all females all the time. The Human Mortality Database, which has complete lifespan tables for men and women from 38 countries found that for all 38 countries for every year in the database, female life expectancy at birth exceeds male life expectancy. Women’s lifespan advantage appears to be lifelong in that women make up 90 percent of the supercentenarians, those who live to 110 years of age or longer.

Download the complete article (a PDF).