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Why women are stronger than men

Helen Foster, Good health magazine
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Image: Good Health magazine
Brought to you by Good Health magazine

Women live longer than men - an average of 80.7 years to their 77.2 - and now it seems we have better disease-fighting ability, stronger hearts and a more finely-honed sense for danger and self-preservation.

Our white blood cells are super-powered

That was what Dr Ramona Scotland from Queen Mary, University of London found when she examined exactly what happens in male mice versus female ones when exposed to live bacteria. "Despite the fact that we gave both groups the same bacteria at the same time, three hours later the amount of bacteria in the females’ blood was really low," she says.

Looking closely at the white blood cells, she found that not only do females have about double the numbers of a type of cell called macrophages than men do, but “female macrophages have a greater number of danger-sensing proteins on their surface which makes them more sensitive to invaders and they were faster at engulfing those invaders when they spotted them”, Scotland reveals.

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We have periods

In her review 'Why Men Die Younger', actuary Barbara Blatt Kalben says that testosterone plays a part in the early demise of males. "It tends to promote higher blood pressure, suppresses the effectiveness of the immune system and encourages thrombosis," she explains.

It also upsets the formation of good cholesterol and revs up production of the bad type.

Women’s hearts stay stronger longer

That was the finding of Dr David Goldspink at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. "The power of the male heart falls by 20 to 25 percent between 18 to 70 years of age," he says.

"In contrast, there was no age-related decline in the power of female hearts." Exactly why isn’t known, but the sexes hearts do differ in structure. Women’s hearts are made of stronger fibres and we have more elastic heart tissues.

When our hearts weaken it’s because this tissue stiffens. Men are more likely to suffer weakened heart muscle fibres.

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We’re born stronger

Research from Italy has discovered more boys are conceived in autumn than at any other time. "We don’t know exactly how this happens, but we think we know why," lead researcher Dr Angelo Cagnacci says. "Traditionally, boy babies are far more fragile than girls – in the womb and in the first months of life.

By allowing them to be conceived when conditions are temperate – and born in the milder months of summer – it may be that nature is compensating for this.”

For the full story, see the October issue of Good Health. Subscribe to Good Health and receive a FREE Sukin Face Essentials Pack, valued at $39.95!


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