Meanwhile, studies have shown testosterone fuels a man's competitive nature, driving him to be more reckless.
Scientists at Duke University set out to measure the impact of starvation, disease and other hardships on mortality rates among human populations over the last 250 years. Life expectancy in men dropped to 18.17 after the Irish Potato Famine while it only dropped to 22.4 for women.
In virtually every case, they found that women survived their ordeals far longer, often outliving their male counterparts by years, even when conditions were equally dire. Among them were working and former slaves in Trinidad and the United States in the early 1800s, starvation victims in Sweden, Ireland and the Ukraine in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and Icelanders affected by the 1846 and 1882 measles epidemics.
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The authors write: "Even in Liberia, the population with the lowest life expectancy, newborn girls were hardier than newborn boys, ' lending support to the idea there is a 'biological underpinning" of the female survival advantage. Women also lived longer during two 19th century Icelandic measles outbreaks, with females lasting up to two years longer than men.
Researchers from Duke University and the University of Southern Denmark analysed data from seven populations who had an average life expectancy of less than 20 years.
When life expectancy increased, women still outlived men by an average of between six months and four years. Overall, 43 percent of ex-slaves who were encouraged by the United States government to migrate to Liberia died within their first year in Africa because their immune systems were exposed to new diseases.
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"Most of the female advantage was due to differences in mortality among infants".
The results suggest that the life expectancy gender gap can't be fully explained by behavioral and social differences between the sexes, such as risk-taking or violence. For example, life expectancy during the Irish potato starvation dropped from 38 years to just 22.4 for women - and 18.7 years for men.
Men might naturally have more muscle mass and strength than women, but ladies are the ones that live longer - even in times of crisis. They pointed out that the female sex hormone oestrogen has anti-inflammatory qualities and has been shown to enhance the immune system's ability to ward off infections.
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