Question of the Week Podcast

Question of the Week episode

Mon, 18th Jun 2012

Why do women live longer than men?

Old lady from Zacatecas, Mexico (c) Tomas Castelazo

We find out why men generally die before women. Plus we ask, could we use gene therapy to cheat a DNA test and escape a crime scene......

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In this edition of Question of the Week

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  • Why do women live longer than men?

    Hello Dr's! We've all heard that women on average live longer than man. My question is, ignoring any outside influences like smoking, risk taking, eating habits etc, is there any fundamental difference between the longevity of the male vs. female body? Steve

 

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About 10% of the human genes are carried on the X Chromosome.
Women have 2 copies (1 from each parent), while men have only 1 copy (from their mother).
All chromosomes carry mutations, but a woman will have a second copy of the X Chromosome, which can mask defects on the the other one.
In the female, each cell randomly inactivates one of the X chromosomes, but the presence of two copies in the body is enough to reduce the chances of women suffering from "male diseases" like haemophilia. It probably also protects against a range of less-obvious conditions that could slightly shorten lifespan in males.
evan_au, Fri, 22nd Jun 2012

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