Sadly, many female widows know this all too well–women live longer than men. Now, researchers are searching to understand why. The answer may be in their genes, according to a new research paper published in the Journal BioEssays.
It seems that women live longer for many reasons including the fact that they tend to have a stronger
immune system. This makes them have a lower incidence of cancer. Men have a
“two- to five-fold greater risk of developing the disease,” according to Fox News.
This may lead to a verbal boxing match, but researchers also believe that women live longer than men because they tend to be better able to survive trauma and may get less seriously ill from viral and bacterial infections. Some reports indicate that women are tough and are as much as 14% more likely to survive a traumatic injury than men.
The paper from the Ghent University in Belgium found that women live longer than men, in part, thanks to two X chromosomes which seem to be the reason they have greater immunity to diseases.
Short strands of RNA (which are related to DNA and can carry important biological effects) are the key to greater health and are encoded on the X chromosome. These micro-RNAs can act as a silencer (causing it to become inactive) on immunity genes on a man’s X chromosome, according to the research. This leaves men in a weak position to fight off disease. However, women have a back-up. The second X chromosome that women carry helps them compensate should their first X chromosome and immunity genes be silenced.
The new research lays to rest the centuries-old saying that called women the “weaker sex”. It appears men can’t compete with the extra X chromosome that women carry, which is why researchers believe women live longer than men.
“We believe this is due to the X chromosome which in humans contains 10 percent of all microRNAs detected so far in the genome,” said Claude Libert from Ghent University.
Many questions still remain and certainly lifestyle and environment are influential on how long any of us will live regardless of whether we’re a man or a woman. But for now, researchers are confident that genetic makeup plays a role in the reason why women live longer than men.
Editor’s note: photo credit Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net