- - Wednesday, January 10, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Researchers at the Max Planck Odense Center at the University of Southern Denmark have just discovered what everybody already knew (which is the most persuasive kind of research): Women are stronger than men, and they live longer, too.

Women not only live longer than men in ordinary times, but the new research shows that women lived longer in times of history’s great natural catastrophes, such as the Great Potato Famine in Ireland in 1845-1849. Perhaps all that missing cholesterol in milady’s missing french fries, since she rarely got enough to eat, was the secret to the differences.

“We studied male-female survival differences in populations of slaves and populations exposed to severe famines and epidemics,” the researchers say. “We find that even when mortality was very high, women lived longer on average than men.

“Most of the female advantage was due to differences in mortality among infants: girls were able to survive harsh conditions better than boys. These results support the view that the female survival advantage is modulated by a complex interaction of biological environmental and social factors.” In other words, biology meets everyday life.

Before the great crises in hunger, when almost nobody had enough to eat, both sexes had a life expectancy of about 38 years, but during the great famine the expectancy rates dropped to a stunning 18.7 for men, and a better but still awful 22.4 years for women.



Researchers found the same trend replicated during similar crises and famines in other countries, suggesting that women are biologically superior to men when surviving famines and epidemics of grim and gruesome diseases, many of which are unknown today.

The only place the researchers found in rates where the sexes were reversed was in the Caribbean slave trade, and this is probably explained by simple, if dread, economics — male slaves, being bigger, had a higher value and subsequently got more to eat to keep them alive.  

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