Women 'more likely to survive life-threatening situation'

Women 'more likely to survive life-threatening situation'

New research suggests women are more resilient than men.

Researchers from Duke University and University of Southern Denmark analysed the mortality data going back roughly around 250 years for people whose lives were cut short by different disasters like starvation or diseases or other misfortunes.

In the Irish potato starvation, a type of mould Phytophora infestans caused crop failures over three years - and life expectancy shrank from 38 years for both sexes, to 18.7 years for men and 22.4 years for women.

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark looked at historical data on death rates for both women and men who endured famines - like the Irish potato starvation, the Ukraine starvation and the Swedish starvation - along with disease outbreaks and found that women outlived men nearly every time. The data also included victims of starvation in Ireland, Sweden and Ukraine during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, as well as the casualties of measles epidemics in 1846 and 1882 in Iceland.

Dr Virginia Zarulli, lead author of the study, said: "Even though the crises reduced the female survival advantage in life expectancy, women still survived better than men".

They found that while women survived for a longer interval as compared to men, they outlived male counterparts by years in cases where conditions were equally bad. It is striking that during epidemics and famines as harsh as those analysed here, newborn girls still survived better than newborn boys'.

Men might naturally have more muscle mass and strength than women, but ladies are the ones that live longer - even in times of crisis.

The migration to Africa was a huge shock to the population, who encountered new diseases, and 43 per cent of people died within their first year on Liberian soil.

"The data spanned seven populations in which the life expectancy for one or both sexes was a dismal 20 years or less".

When it comes to survival in the most extreme conditions women really are the strongest sex, a study of famines, epidemics and slavery has found.

Male and female sex hormones, testosterone and oestrogen, could play a role. Life expectancy at birth was just 1.68 years for boys and 2.23 years for girls.

In the Ukrainian starvation - caused by a disastrous collectivisation of agriculture - life expectancy dropped from 41.58 to 7.3 years for men, and from 45.93 years for women to 10.9 years.

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