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Why Women Live Longer Than Men

Women participate in a fitness class lead by Kira Stokes, right, at NYSC Lab in New York, May 11, 2017.

New data finds women everywhere live on average 4.4 years longer than men because they see the doctor more frequently and generally take better care of their health.

While women outlive men around the world, the World Health Organization’s Statistics Overview 2019 says their life expectancy is sharply reduced because of maternal deaths. It says this highlights the big health gap that still exists between rich and poor countries.

The World Health Organization reports one in 41 women die from maternal causes in poor countries where access to health services are scarce. This compared with one in 3,300 maternal deaths in rich countries.

Samira Asma is WHO assistant director general for data, analytics and delivery. She says men die earlier than women because they do not take as good care of their health as women. Also, they tend to be exposed to greater risks.

“In many circumstances, men use health care less than women. They are less likely to seek care and to continue care once diagnosed of a certain condition. And also, men are more likely to die from preventable and treatable noncommunicable diseases and road traffic accidents,” says Asma.

Jameson Florence, left, and Mark Jablonski as they smoke La Traviata cigars outside the Rain City Cigar shop in Seattle.
Jameson Florence, left, and Mark Jablonski as they smoke La Traviata cigars outside the Rain City Cigar shop in Seattle.

Leading causes of death

Of the 40 leading causes of death, the report says men have higher death rates than women from 33 of the risk factors. For example, the report says men smoke and drink alcohol much more than women. It finds global suicide mortality rates are 75 percent higher in men than in women.

Asma says noncommunicable diseases are on the rise in most of the low- and middle-income countries, especially in Africa. She tells VOA this is due to the emergence of risk factors such as tobacco use, increase in alcohol consumption and unhealthy diets.

“In terms of leading causes of noncommunicable disease-related deaths, are cardiovascular and ischemic heart disease. And hypertension. Though it is preventable and treatable, a risk factor is not being addressed,” she said.

Asma says statistics on NCD-related deaths underscore the need to prioritize primary health care. She says people in these facilities can receive the medicine and treatment they need for their ailments. She notes that people who seek primary health care are made aware of the risk factors that can cause premature deaths.