Welcome to another edition of Menopause Mondays®. While I typically focus on women’s health during menopause, today, we’re diving into the widening gender gap in life expectancy. Recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics reveals that women in the United States now live an average of 5.8 years longer than men, from a low of 4.8 years in 2010. This marks the largest disparity since 1996.
There are various other factors at play.
According to Dr. Brandon Yan, a study author and resident physician at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine and a research collaborator at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the reasons behind the widening gap are multifactorial. In the past, the gap was significantly impacted by smoking habits anymore. Men were more likely than women to be smokers. However, now we’re facing a convergence of epidemics – COVID-19, drug overdose, and mental illness. It was also pointed out that biological factors like estrogen in the female immune system may impact the gap.
There isn’t a single reason. Here are some things that impact this:
- COVID-19: The pandemic has disproportionately affected men in terms of mortality. This, coupled with its overall impact on life expectancy, has contributed significantly to the gender gap. Men are more likely to succumb to COVID-19, which has added to the gap in life expectancy. The study didn’t specifically address whether this was due to vaccination rates, mask-wearing, or underlying conditions.
- Preventative Healthcare: Women generally engage in more preventative health behaviors. This contributes to the early detection of disease and better management of health issues.
- Drug Overdose: Drug overdose deaths have been on the rise, and this problem has particularly affected men during the pandemic. It’s a concerning trend that has further widened the life expectancy gap.
- Mental Illness: The pandemic’s toll on mental health has been profound. Mental health issues, including suicide, have affected both men and women, but addressing mental health is crucial in understanding the broader context of gender.
- Socioeconomic Status & Demographics: This is often associated with limited access to healthcare which leads to reduced life expectancy. Men often are working
Ladies, stay up on your vaccines, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and keep up your preventative health protocols. Staying socially connected with your sisterhood will add to your joy and longevity.
Stay informed and healthy!
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