Turns out, women may not live longer than men after all...

·2-min read
Photo credit: MStudioImages - Getty Images
Photo credit: MStudioImages - Getty Images

Hello and welcome to today's edition of 'everything you know is a lie!' – as new data has flipped the long-held belief that women, in general, live longer than men. However, it's not quite as straightforward as 'if you're a man, you've got an extra ten years no matter what', as there are certain lifestyle factors and caveats that the researchers observed along the way.

In the Danish study, which spans over 200 years and across 199 populations (so a very expansive pool of subjects), it was observed that some men have a better chance of outliving women if they're married or have a degree. The data, which was published on the BMJ Open journal, notes that "since 1850 the probability of males outliving females has, at all points in time and across all populations, varied between 25% and 50% – with only a few values above 50% in different countries at different times".

Essentially, what this means is that between 1 to 2 of every 4 men have outlived women during the past 200 years, so actually it might be a more level playing field than we all thought. The report also notes differences from country to country, writing that "between 2015 and 2019, the probability of males outliving females was 40% across the entire US population" with marital status and education increasing the chances for a longer life.

It's thought that factors such as smoking habits and alcohol consumption (which can increase the chances of developing cancer) and behavioural differences also vary enough between the sexes to have an impact on the results.

Photo credit: Peter Dazeley - Getty Images
Photo credit: Peter Dazeley - Getty Images

Other factors such as the likelihood of getting into a fatal car accident (something much higher for men), becoming a casualty of war and suicide rates (again, higher in men) may also have an impact on lifespan and be linked to sex.

The data also indicates that thanks to improvements in maternal medicine, the death rate has fallen faster for women under the age of 50, over the last hundred years, when compared to men of a similar age (such as the rate of infant mortality and deaths occurring in childbirth).

In conclusion though, the researchers said more nuanced data is needed before we can ever really say 'who lives longer' indefinitely. "Efforts in reducing lifespan inequalities must thus target diverse factors, causes and ages," they stress.

And really, as morbid as it might be to say, none of us can ever really predict when our time will be up – so you may as well not waste any worrying about it.

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