The Short End of the Gender Stick
Permalink | View Comments (1) | Post Comment | | Posted by Reason

Here is some data for you to mull over today: the not so great odds that come with being male.

[The] disparity in mortality rates for males and females does not just occur in late adolescence/young adulthood. Males have a higher mortality rate at young ages (e.g. ages 1-4 the death rate for males is 12% higher than it is for females the same age) and older ages (e.g. ages 65-74 the death rate is 33% higher than it is for females that age). Considering the inequality in mortality rates between the genders across the lifespan makes it clear that it is not "nurture" alone that explains why males are more likely to die in every single age category, from the first year of life to age 85+.

The disparity between male and female life expectancy is well known and widely studied, but not definitively understood. What this means in practice is that there exists a very wide range of theories to explain some or all of the gender longevity gap:

Differing smoking rates, stem cell effectiveness, mitochondrial effectiveness, and the possible effects of hormones on the immune system are all on the list. [As well as the theory] that hormones influence the expression and activity of known longevity genes

Which is not to mention the raft of subtly different takes on evolutionary arguments to explain shorter male life spans, such as the debate over disposable soma theories as they apply to the genders.

On the one hand it is fascinating that we stand upon the verge of being able to repair aging, yet at the same time we cannot answer what appears to be a simple question about the nature of aging. On the other hand, this is an apt illustration that sometimes what appear to be simple questions are in fact very complex questions. In this case, the answer to why men and women exhibit different mortality rates and life expectancies must involve the summed interactions of all the systems of human biology, subject to the statistical blurring of a million different lifestyles lived concurrently by billions of people.

The path from epidemiology to clear vision of biological mechanisms is a long, tough trek - and in the end it will do no more for us than to make it easier to work on ways to change that biology. Which is all the more reason to place less of an emphasis on that and more of an emphasis on the path to repairing the forms of molecular damage that cause aging - which are already known and enumerated.

Comments

Look at the protein levels in the diet of males VS females and the lifespan. Note females eat less protein and the live longer.

Look at the 7th day adventist data. Lifespan and quitile of protein intake. Same result: less protein corrraltes with longer lifespan.

AUTOPHAGY- seems to be the key
Caloric Restriction, Every Other Day eating, Low protein, Low specific amino acids, C3H8O3, Mannoheptulose, Trehalose, and a host of chemicals and drugs promote autophagy and increase healthy lifespan.

Posted by: Eric at March 10, 2011 10:26 PM
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