It’s common knowledge women generally live longer than men. And no, it’s not because men have an unhealthy obsession with fast cars and bungee jumping.
According to a study by scientists at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, the reason our better halves outlive us is that their immune system ages at a slower rate than men’s.
The study, published in the online journal ‘’Immunity & Ageing’’, analysed blood samples from 365 healthy men and women aged between 20 and 90 for differences in levels of white blood cells and immune system-related cytokines.
The result: in both sexes, white blood cells declined naturally with age; however, the scientists found a significant drop in ageing men’s levels of T-cells, which protect the body from infection, and B-cells, which secrete antibodies. Men also scored lower on age-related decline in two cytokines.
Keeping the good news coming, the study also noted an age-related decline in red blood cells for men that didn’t exist for women.
“Age-related changes in various immunological parameters differ between men and women,” reported lead study author Prof Katsuiku Hirokawa. “Our findings indicate that the slower rate of decline in these immunological parameters in women than that in men is consistent with the fact that women live longer than do men.
"The process of aging is different for men and women for many reasons. Women have more oestrogen than men which seems to protect them from cardiovascular disease until menopause,” says Hirokawa.
“Sex hormones also affect the immune system, especially certain types of lymphocytes. Because people age at different rates a person's immunological parameters could be used to provide an indication of their true biological age."