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My theory

The enduring mystery of why women outlive men may come down to the smallest and the largest cells in the body: the sperm and eggs that are central to human reproduction.

Scientists in Japan have shown for the first time in vertebrates that cells that develop into eggs in females and sperm in males drive sex differences in lifespan, and that removing the cells leads to animals with the same life expectancy.

Don’t think fish work for mammals. Because in mammals it’s the pregnancy itself which is the difficult bit – not something that affects fish.

Of course I say this from that glorious position of knowing fuck all about the subject.

With humans I do have a theory though. To survive pregnancy and birth you’ve got to be a pretty tough little human. If you can do that then you’re likely to survive longer than those with a body built to not have to do that. Historically the average outcome was probably shorter female lives – those lost to childbirth exceeded the extra years of life from those who survived it. I think. Now we’ve drastically reduced the deaths in childbirth and so the innate toughness gains its expression.

Again, this is from a position of invincible ignorance of the details but it’s my theory and I like it.

21 thoughts on “My theory”

  1. Men tend to do more dangerous jobs. Also, teenage males often lack any kind of instinct for self preservation.

  2. Men tend to do more dangerous jobs. Also, teenage males often lack any kind of instinct for self preservation.
    Just the teenagers? There’s little doubt that abusing the body shortens life expectancy. Notable how many leading sportsmen die early. Often in their 50s.

  3. Also there’s the grandma effect. Those women who survive the birth of all their children are going to be useful as carers for their own grandchildren so it make sense that they don’t die early. Whereas us drones leave grandma to it and go find entertainment with younger women until irate young men deliver the coup de grâce or we fall off the perch naturally.

  4. @TG
    I’m cherishing my drone status into the middle of my 8th decade. Where are these obliging younger men? They all seem to be scuttling out of the clubs at 2AM leaving me to do the hard grafting on me own. Have I got to carry on like this forever?

  5. Although dying younger because of risk taking does factor into average lifespans, there is something else at work. At any given age men have a lower expected average time until they die than women. So at age 80, when one would hope that most risk taking ventures were behind them, men still tend to survive fewer years than women of the same age. I’ve seen articles that suggest bit is the effect of testosterone, leading to men being more likely, for example, to have heart attacks and strokes, but no doubt the actual underlying causes are a combination of factors.

  6. Alternative theory: The more you talk the longer you live. Fits all observed fscts, no cells or fish required.

  7. Another, simple, hypothesis is that men die sooner just because they live with women.

    This could perhaps be tested by examination of settled gay couples – if it’s correct, lesbians should have the same life-expectancy as men, and gay men should parallel women.

  8. There have been studies that show that married men live longer lives than single men, and married women live shorter lives than unmarried women. The ideal is a population of married men and unmarried women. Just as other studies show the best education environment is mixed-sex schools for boys and single-sex schools for girls.

  9. Well jgh. Does this mean that if some poor girl feels crook, she just has to dump hubby and she’ll be fine???

  10. A very subjective observation, but with a few exceptions in both sides of my family, the women have outlived the men.

  11. @asiaseen, same in my family on my mother’s side. My mother and her two sisters are all in their 80s and all are widows. Their three younger brothers have all passed on.

  12. Men take less care of themselves and are less likely to see the doctor quack.

    At the end, that’s when all the illnesses come along and women go seek medical help before it becomes untreatable.

    Be interesting to see the take up of the murder-jab by sex. Because it could be about to change if more women took it up…

  13. The Meissen Bison

    BiND: «Highly unlikely because the evidence keeps refuting that claim. »

    That’s not evidence, that’s a badly put-together comfort-blanket.

  14. Some of my best friends

    BiND: you’ve missed the point – it’s compulsory on this site to believe ridiculous shit about Covid vaccines, global warming, and the 2020 US election. If you can’t do that – and what sentient person can – just keep quiet and appreciate Tim’s cogent analysis of much else.

  15. Not sure of that theory.

    Medical improvements have allowed the weaker, who would have died previously to produce offspring . Genetic theory is that weakens the strain, not improving it as the woman can now produce more offspring and their offspring can produce. It won’t have made any difference to the strong but the weak have increased in number.

    Medical improvement and social improvement all seem to have the same outcome. More of those who would have dies previously which is a weakening of our genetic code.

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