It’s a well-known fact women live longer than men on average. Currently, the average life expectancy for females in the United States is 80.1 years. For males, it is 74.8 years, about 7 percent shorter. This is one reason women enjoy less expensive term life insurance policies. Have you ever stopped to consider why women live longer than men? Researchers believe genetic traits, behaviors and lifestyle choices by the fairer sex may all play a role.
Your wife may sometimes claim your brain is the size of a walnut. While we know this isn’t true literally (is it?), some parts of the male brain are indeed smaller than parts of the female brain. According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the part of the brain that keeps aggression in check, the orbitofrontal cortex, is smaller in men than in women. This may explain why women are better able to control aggression, and why men are more likely to lose control. So gentlemen, the next time you feel road rage coming on, remember it may not be entirely your fault. You have your tiny orbitofrontal cortex to blame as well.
It isn’t totally clear how testosterone contributes to risky behaviors. However, we do know that men tend to engage more often in risky behaviors and dangerous activities. One interesting study conducted by the University of California, San Diego found that men do take more risks than women in gambling, health, and recreational activities.
Men have historically taken on more dangerous occupations than women. Construction work, mining, military, firefighting and law enforcement are all jobs that are typically dominated by male workers and are often highly dangerous. Mentally stressful jobs such as lawyers, politicians, and high-powered businessmen (think Fortune 500 CEO’s) are also male dominated. We’re certainly not saying women are not capable of handling these types of careers, and kudos to the many that do. In fact, many would argue the toughest, most stressful job of all is raising children – a job most often dominated by women!
All of this stress from dangerous jobs, risky behavior, and smaller brain parts must be controlled somehow, which is one reason men tend to participate more in self-medication through alcohol, smoking or other drugs. The CDC reports men consistently have higher alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women. This higher level of substance abuse could also lead to increased incidence of disease, such as certain cancers or cirrhosis of the liver.
Of course, we all know the real reason women live longer than men: we are made of sugar, spice, and everything nice! Tell us why you think women live longer than men.