WHY WOMEN LIVE LONGER THAN MEN
This is an issue that has plunged scientists and researchers into series of studies. Based on statistical records, men have a higher death rate than women. This is evident in almost every race and nationality.
What experts say
Studies and researches prove that women around the world have a survival advantage over men, sometimes by as much as 10 years. Also, that a woman's heart goes on performing just as well, even if she is old, while a man's heart loses 25% of its pumping power by the time he reaches the age of 70.
Available evidence revolves around behavioral/biological differences between the sexes, differences in the effects of medical technology as well as social and psychological factors. Considering the analysis got online from Dr. Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University, Prof. Tom Kirkwood of the University of Newcastle, Nigel Barbe Ph.D, a psychologist in his book 'The Human Beast' and some other excerpts from individuals, women live longer than men.
Dr. Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University in his study says that women are less prone to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke than men. He says, 'women develop these problems usually in their 70s and 80s, about 10 years later than men, who develop them in their 50s and 60s.'
Another possible factor put forward is hormonal differences – toxic testosterone (in men) and estrogen (in women) that tends to widen the gap of mortality pattern between male and female. According to experts, testosterone puts men at risk biologically as well as behaviourally. 'It increases the blood level of the bad cholesterol (LDL- Low Density Lipoprotein) and decreases levels of the good one(HDL- High Density Lipoprotein) , putting men at greater risk of heart disease and stroke.' In the case of women, estrogen is considered as having beneficial effect on cardiovascular health. Experts say that in women, the bad cholesterol (LDL) is lowered while (HDL) the good one is increased.
Nigel Barbe, a psychologist, in his 'child giver' theory says that females live longer because they are primary caregivers for children. He states, 'In every society, women do more of the child care than men. They live longer than men because they are more essential to the survival and well being of children. Yet, the real reason women outlive men may be that they take better care of themselves.' Other factors could be found in differences in lifestyles, behavior and so on.
Some Nigerians also share their opinions on why women live longer than men. Hear them.
A life of struggle and stress
Mr. Morah Joseph, an educationist, says that women live longer than men because they have a lot to contend with. 'Men are the heads of families. They struggle a lot; they go out in the morning and come back in the evenings, at times, very late. They pass through a lot of stress and hardship. Generally, women are the homemakers. They work these days because of the modern trends but most of the time; they stay at home, doing house chores.
Genes also contribute but basically the jobs men do consume more energy. Let me use myself as an example ; I am thinking of how to settle down, rent a decent apartment, plan ahead and save some money to be able to carry my responsibility.'
Men are the burden bearer
For Mr. Adio, a civil servant in Lagos, women live longer than men because 'It is men that fend for their family and do everything. The women only keep their own money. It is not a matter of gene but it is a question of culture and religion in Nigeria. Like in the western countries, women struggle and we discover that the gap is not much. But here, men are responsible for everything.'
Mrs. Obiah Okwefa-Doherty, a lawyer says 'I observe that in our families and extended family, we see that women live longer than men but I can't say for sure the reason behind the phenomenon.'
Men bottle up their pains
Rev. Sr. Benedicta Onatunji, a microbiologist states that women live longer due to social, medical and religious reasons. She says 'women are better at expressing their feelings and sharing the pains than men. Men, on the other hand, are secretive even when they are having health problems. There is also this unwritten code that men should not cry. So, they bottle up their emotions.
There is also the ego issues. Again, women are able to bear pain, difficulties because of their children and they do more house chores than men. Medically, after the age of 40, the only problem women can have is hormonal disorder. But for men, after 40, they are prone to hormonal disorder which can accommodate a lot of disease such as prostate cancer, heart attack and the rest of them. Then from the religious perspective, women go to the church than men.
They are always there, they attend religious programmes and through that pour out their hearts to God. Men don't do that. They are always preoccupied with how to make more money. Even when they lose their husbands, they still cope better. Women share their troubles with their children.'
Mrs. Ngozi Ebegbulem, a laboratory technologist agrees that women live longer than men. 'Women are available even in the clinic to check themselves but our men find it difficult to come to the hospital. Even when you ask them to come, they get afraid. They don't pay as much attention to their health as women.
'Let us also consider the kind of food they eat and their life style. Some of them don't eat well. Maybe in the morning they take a cup of coffee and then follow it up with other drinks they are addicted to.
They smoke, drink alcohol and other dangerous stuff that adversely affect their health. But women mostly have better lifestyles. As they take care of the children, they also take care of themselves. When they are taught in the hospital how to take care of the house and basic healthy lifestyle, the men are not available. For example, some of them come here and if you ask them to run some tests, they say 'lailai' (never).
Then some men are into stressful jobs. They go out in the morning and if you ask some of them what they have eaten, they may tell you it's tobacco. Hormones has little to do with their life. If they take care of themselves, they too will live longer. One thing is that they believe that a man is meant to suffer. Even when they get the money, they still find it difficult to take good care of themselves.'
Men panic when there is no money
Another laboratory technologist, Mrs. Ijeoma Ezen, views it from the biblical account that 'it is not good for a man to be alone, I will give you another helper. I think that is why men assume the responsibility of taking care of their wives. Again, women value medical attention than men and also share with their fellow women if things don't go well with them.
During their ante-natal period, they receive medical care and are taught how to guard their health. They open up and beg for help even if they don't have the money. But men believe in money and how to get it. They believe so much in themselves and hide their problems. Another thing is that women take things as they come gradually. Women are calm in handling issues. Men panic a lot especially when there is no money.'
School fees and rent…
According to Mr. Obusahie John, 'I agree that women live longer than men. Actually the stress the men go through make them expire early. For instance, the fact that they wake up as early as 5a.m in the morning to hustle and bustle to keep the family going is enough to take a man's life. There are a lot of things that men think about- how the children will feed, their educational, the house rent. All these cut the life of a man short.'
Affiong Joseph, a clearing agent says women live longer because they don't face the stress that men face.
Men ignore symptoms of ill-health
For Mrs. Nwachukwu, a musician and a secretary, women live longer because they take things easy than men. She is of the opinion that 'there are situations where men hit their heads against the wall, show their annoyance, tend to solve their problem and protect their ego by not sharing whatever seems to be bothering them with anybody. But women share their problems with their fellow women and most of the advice they are given ease their pains. Also, women take care of themselves more than men who are too busy and overlook their health. Any slight symptom that women have takes them to the hospital. Most men ignore symptoms of ill-health.'
Wives are younger than their husbands
Mr. Okafor Johnson, a self- employed, also sees women living longer than men but due to differences in age. He says 'often, men marry women that are younger. In such circumstances, there is no way women will not live longer than men. If it happens now that a man marries a woman older than himself, she may die before the man.'
Caring for the extended family
Mr. Taiwo Adejumo, a civil servant has this to say about women living longer than men. In Africa generally, men believe in working for women, catering for them and the children. Even in the family of the woman, the men are expected to do certain things for them. Many of us men are stressed up and have high blood pressure.'
Mr. Idowu who is also a civil servant at the Nigerian Ports Authority, says women live longer because they do nothing. He says men are breadwinners who do virtually everything. In African culture, men are expected to work for the family.
Women only start working hard when they become widows
For Daniel Ekhote, a clearing agent, opines that it's true because 'Looking at the society today, we see widows around. If you have that chance to go to the village, there are so many widows indicating that men die before women. Men struggle a lot, think of how the family will survive and be catered for. But, sorry to say this, women only come out to struggle for a living only when they are widowed but before then, you will see them as weak people. So it is stress that makes men die before women.'
Prince Ifeanyi, a civil servant says women live longer than men because they don't work the way men do. He says, 'look at me now, struggling and my wife is at home doing nothing. We struggle more.'