The Fountain of Youth: Real, or Just a Mirage?
Across the industrialized world, women still live 5-to-10 years longer than men. Among people over 100 years old, 85 percent are women, according to Thomas Perls, founder of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University School of Medicine and creator of the website www.Livingto100.com.
Men, we should be asking ourselves: Why?
Overall, about 70 percent of the variation around average life expectancy – just over 80 for women and just over 75 for men in the United States – is probably attributable to environmental factors, such as your behaviors and your exposures. Probably only 30 percent is due to genetics and, that is very, very good news. There’s so much we can do. Most of us should be able to get into our late 80s. What’s more, to get to older ages, like the centenarians, you are necessarily compressing the time you’re sick to the end of your life. It’s not a case where the older you get, the sicker you get. It’s very much the case that the older you get, the healthier you’ve been.
There are some things that men do worse, or more of, compared to women, which sets us up for this scenario.
- We smoke more compared to women.
- Our testosterone levels are much higher than women (which makes us “MEN”), putting us at risk biologically and behaviorally. Testosterone increases blood levels of bad cholesterol and decreases levels of good cholesterol, putting us at greater risk of hypertension, heart disease and stroke, which starts about 10 years earlier than women. Behavior wise, testosterone makes us more aggressive in nature, and we are greater risk takers because we don’t estimate risk as well as women.
- We eat more food than women (usually), which leads to higher cholesterol and causes cardiovascular disease.
- Men don’t have two X chromosomes, they have an X and one Y chromosome, which may play in how we age. Women have a spare copy of their X chromosome giving them a backup if one is faulty. If one of ours fails, our cells begin to malfunction, which sets us up for greater risk of disease.
- Men don’t deal with their stresses as well as women, in general. We tend to internalize our emotions and stress rather than talking and letting them go.
- We don’t take very good care of ourselves in general, and we wait until we’re dying or we wait if something is really bad before we get any help for our condition. This is in part to how we are raised. When little boys fall down, we tell them that they’re okay, and to be tough. If a little girl falls down we act concerned and coddle her, in most cases. Drug companies understand this culture, and that’s why most drug commercials are geared to women. Women make most of the health and wellness decisions in the household, both for the children and men.
Studies have shown that, in general, women are more health conscious, and they have higher awareness of their physical and mental symptoms. These all result in healthier lifestyles and better health care use. Women also communicate better about their problems, which helps the process of diagnosis.
Masculinity is a socially learned construct, and it can have unhealthy effects. Many men de ne unhealthy and risky behaviors as masculine, while they see health care use and health-promoting behaviors as feminine.
If we compared ourselves to our favorite car or truck, we would take better care of ourselves. Most men drive their bodies hard, put bad fuel in them and do little-to- no maintenance care for themselves, and wonder why, later in life, they are breaking down so much and dying sooner. The fountain is all around us, and we have to decide if we’re going to drink from it (eating good food, getting our nervous system in balance through chiropractic care and maintenance care, exercising in moderation, being more emotionally balanced, etc.).
So enjoy the healthy waters around you, and let’s give the women a run for their money on living longer.
For more information, call Jensen Chiropractic at 775-323-1222 or visit www.AETChiropractic.com.