Are Older Women Less Healthy Than Men?

Are Older Women Less Healthy Than Men?

Yes, and scientists have found part of the answer to the discrepancy, and it lies in our genes.

Science says that we tend to grow happier as we grow older- at least to a certain extent. Raging against all that hurts emotionally apparently loses its luster as the decades go by, for both men and women.

But when it comes to physical health later in life, the sexes aren’t entirely on equal footing.

New research done at the University of Exeter, England, has discovered that some women, unlike men, have genes that act later in life. And it’s a problem.

Men are more likely to die compared with women as they age, but older women are less healthy, overall. It’s something that has puzzled scientists for years, and it’s known as the “male-female, health-survival paradox”.  

Here’s the brief explanation. In humans, there’s a lot of give and take that goes on, when it comes to our genes. Some genes are shared, and they do things like allow men to maintain greater fitness levels as they age.

Related: Fighting Alzheimer’s With HIV Cocktails: a New Future?

Because of them, men continue to be able to reproduce much longer than women (at least in theory), but there’s a glitch. These same genes that benefit aging men, when accumulated in a women, can be problematic.

University of Exeter scientists, call it the “intralocus sexual conflict”.

“Shared genes tether the sexes together in an evolutionary tug of war,” said Professor David Hosken, of the University of Exeter.

“Selection is trying to push females and males in different directions, but the shared genome means each sex stops the other from reaching its optima. Basically, certain genes will make a good male but a bad female, and vice versa.”

So, your foot hurts for no reason? Blame it on menopause and your DNA. It surely wasn’t those pesky shoes.  

Facebook Comments