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Men are the weaker sex, says study

Could it be that women live longer because they are less “disposable” than men?

MEN ARE THE weaker sex because their bodies do not repair as quickly and easily as women’s, according to a University of Newcastle professor.

Women’s bodies are designed to fix wear and tear on the cells in order to produce the healthiest children possible, says Professor Tom Kirkwood. On the other hand, men’s bodies are more disposable because their genes are passed to the next generation, he said.

In interviews last week, Kirkwood explained that ageing is regulated by the genes within the body that specify the levels of cell maintenance. Much of the damage done to cells is at the hands of free radicals, which can be caused by behaviours such as smoking.

In Kirkwood’s theory, ageing is not pre-programmed because the genes that repair cells can be modified.

Although that gap between men and women’s life expectancy has been narrowing, the difference now stands about six years. One reason for this gap is that men suffer higher rates of heart disease – something which oestrogen has helped to protect women from.

Kirkwood says that this theory would fit into his own, as such factors could influence how the maintenance genes are expressed:

It’s important to understand what influences longevity – how much is societal and could it disappear?

This theory matters when we are discussing things such as when women should start their pensions. For a long time, we’ve had a paternalistic attitude that women are the weaker sex.

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