Why is life expectancy longer for women than it is for men?
Lake Elmo, Minn
The diversity in worldwide longevity alone indicates that the difference in mortality between the sexes is not purely biological and that there are intervening social factors. The current range of situations actually reflects different stages of a three-part historical evolution. Women most probably have a biological advantage that allows them to live longer, but in the past – and in several places, still today – the status and life conditions of women nullified this benefit. Today, given the general progress in female life conditions, women have not only regained their biological advantage, but have gone much beyond it, both because they tend to engage in fewer behaviors that are bad for health than men do and because they better profit from current advances in health care and living conditions.
The biological advantage that women have is taken as a certainty, because the mortality of males is higher than that of females from the very outset of life: during the first year of life, in the absence of any outside influence which could differentiate mortality between the sexes, male mortality is 25 to 30 percent greater than is female mortality. The genetic advantage of females is evident. When a mutation of one of the genes of the X chromosome occurs, females have a second X to compensate, whereas all genes of the unique X
chromosome of males express themselves, even if they are deleterious.
(www.sciam.com/askexpert, access on Sep. 24, 2004)
Responda em português.
Por que o fato de as mulheres terem dois cromossomos X lhes concede uma vantagem?
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