Why do females live longer than males?

It has long been known that females tend to outlive males.  I have only to look at my own family’s history to see how that kept happening.  And apparently this also happens in a variety of other species as well. People have asked me “why?”  The best explanation seems to have to do with hormones and our old friends: longevity genes, antioxidants and mitochondria.  In this paper, the Spanish authors trace the phenomenon to “the beneficial action of estrogens, which bind to estrogen receptors and increase the expression of longevity-associated genes, including those encoding the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. As a result, mitochondria from females produce fewer reactive oxygen species than those from males.”  Looking at rats, “Oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA in males is 4-fold higher than that in females(ref).”  Also see ref.  Estrogens are not particularly good for males.  However, I speculate we males might get some of the same longevity benefits by taking anti-oxidant combinations that strongly affect the mitochondria, like Co Q-10, actyl-l-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid(ref).

About Vince Giuliano

Being a follower, connoisseur, and interpreter of longevity research is my latest career. I have been at this part-time for well over a decade, and in 2007 this became my mainline activity. In earlier reincarnations of my career. I was founding dean of a graduate school and a university professor at the State University of New York, a senior consultant working in a variety of fields at Arthur D. Little, Inc., Chief Scientist and C00 of Mirror Systems, a software company, and an international Internet consultant. I got off the ground with one of the earliest PhD's from Harvard in a field later to become known as computer science. Because there was no academic field of computer science at the time, to get through I had to qualify myself in hard sciences, so my studies focused heavily on quantum physics. In various ways I contributed to the Computer Revolution starting in the 1950s and the Internet Revolution starting in the late 1980s. I am now engaged in doing the same for The Longevity Revolution. I have published something like 200 books and papers as well as over 430 substantive.entries in this blog, and have enjoyed various periods of notoriety. If you do a Google search on Vincent E. Giuliano, most if not all of the entries on the first few pages that come up will be ones relating to me. I have a general writings site at www.vincegiuliano.com and an extensive site of my art at www.giulianoart.com. Please note that I have recently changed my mailbox to vegiuliano@agingsciences.com.
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5 Responses to Why do females live longer than males?

  1. prophets says:

    what about isoflavones from soy? genistein from soy?

  2. admin says:

    Very interesting suggestions, prophet’s. Thanks for pointing it out. On the one hand, the estrogenic effect of genistein is reputed to be relatively weak, It is unclear whether this effect would enhance longevity in males via the pathway described above that normally works in women. Perhaps there might be some effect if someone consumed very large quantities of soy as is normal in some Asian countries. On the other hand soy isoflavones including genistein may ofer protection against cancers. Finally, genistein may have serious side effects. See http://www.sp.edu.sg/schools/cls/bioline_06.htm. On the whole I think it is fine to consume some soy products but I personally would hesitate to take concentrated soy isoflavones as a supplement

  3. Res says:

    Hi Vince



    There is a correlation between the size and the heart rate and the total heart beats and the life span of animals.

    I tried verymuch to see the heart rate and the resultant life span of storm petrels , without success.

    I wanted to see if the storm petrel beat this logic at all.

  4. Carlos G says:

    Both estrogens and tamoxifen lengthen telomeres.
    Tamoxifen is both an estrogen and an antiestrogen

    So maybe a combination of additional estrogen AND tamoxifen might be used for both males and females? in different doses and schedules for each gender.
    Estrogen might provide good protective effects and tamoxifen may prevent feminization in males. Tamoxifen may be used on alternate days from estrogens.

    There are alpha and beta estrogen receptors which can cause different, opposite and synergistic effects from each other.
    For example tamoxifen has some ER alpha effects but is a complete ER beta antagonist.

    Moreover you may take an estrogen along with tamoxifen to get no ER beta effects, some ER alpha effects yet a lot of non Estrogen Receptor effects
    Also there are some experimental ER alpha selective antagonists.

    Could a blog post about estrogen receptors and their non ER mechanisms be posted?

  5. Imperator7 says:

    Hi Carlos G

    It is interesting to see a comment on such an old post. It seems that much of the readership usage of the blog is for past entries. As to your points:

    . estrogens and tamoxifen lengthen telomeres

    True, but since telomere lengths seems to be a downstream effect of other more basic phenomena, I think that except in very special circumstances such as perhaps the presence of HIV, lengthening telomeres is of little use. Besides, there are a lot of innocuous substances and activities that can normally lengthen telomeres. I have written a number of blog entries on the topic subsequent to this one. See for example



    2. Could a blog post about estrogen receptors and their non ER mechanisms be posted?

    Definitely yes and I think such could be very interesting. If you want to take a crack at it, you could e-mail me ideas or draft materials at vegiuliano@agingsciences.com.


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