One of the most important medical statistics is life expectancy. In this category, women are definitely winning. The global life expectancy for a man is 62.7 years, comparing this to the female global life expectancy of 66 years; we get a difference of 3.3 years. However in some countries the difference is even greater. In Russia the difference is as large as 13 years! This raises an imperative question, why do women live longer than men?
The answer could lie within our immune systems. A group of Japanese scientists believe that a woman’s immune system ages faster than that of a man’s, thus as a man ages he becomes more susceptible to not only disease but also cancer earlier on in life. Despite increased longevity, it is thought that women feel pain more intensely than men. An article by Scientific American talks about the increased pain felt by women suffering from conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and other conditions such as respiratory infections. Pain is always difficult to survey accurately as it is up to interpretation by the sufferer. However, surveys done of 11,000 patients concluded that there were 250 conditions that were more painful for one sex than the other. Not only this, but in the majority of cases, on average women rated their pain as 20% higher than the average man did.
Another major difference between the two genders is colour blindness. Red-green colour blindness is caused by not having some Cone cells, or having Cone cells that do not work properly, making it difficult for a sufferer to distinguish between red, green and blue. Red-green colour blindness occurs in 6% of men, but in a mere 0.4% of women. This makes colour blindness 15 times more common in men. Again, it is only natural we question the cause of this discrepancy. The X chromosome is responsible for Colour blindness. This makes you wonder why it is less common in women, who have two X chromosomes. This is because if a man inherits a certain deficient Ospin gene from his X chromosome, he will definitely become colour blind. If a woman was to inherit a similarly deficient gene in one of her chromosomes then she is still likely to be able to see normally as she will probably inherit a non-deficient set of genes in her second X chromosome. If a woman who does inherit a single deficient chromosome then she will be only slightly colour blind, but not to a noticeable level. This is because some of the cone cells will come from the healthy X chromosome and some from the bad X chromosome, so a woman with a single deficient X chromosome will still have enough healthy cone cells for the difference not to be noticeable. One of the harder hitting disadvantages of being a male is the much higher risk of cancer. It is well recorded that ‘Almost every type of cancer kills more men than women.’
The following is a list from Time Magazine’s website of the cancers with the greatest gender disparities:
- Cancer of the lip: 5.51 men died for every one woman
- Cancer of the larynx: 5.37 men died for every one woman
- Cancer of the hypopharynx: 4.47 men died for every one woman
- Cancer of the esophagus: 4.08 men died for every one woman
- Cancer of the bladder: 3.36 men died for every one woman
After a few relatively brief assessments of only a few medical differences between the two genders, it is difficult to come to a conclusion about which is medically superior, but it can be agreed that with an increased chance of suffering from cancer and colour blindness and a shorter life expectancy, females could be better off than men, in regard to the topics assessed in this post.
Thanks to Jonathan Ince for the inspiration.