Most of the time, women live longer than men: it may vary from country to country, but almost everywhere in the world, women outlive their male counterparts by anywhere from two to five and a half years, and sometimes even longer, and while this may not be the case for everyone, it tends to be the rule.
Researchers in Japan wanted to see just this, so they did a study to find out. The findings, which were published in the journal, Immunity and Ageing, linked longer life spans of women to immune systems that age more slowly than in men. Since the immune system helps to ward off diseases, and illnesses, and also helps to protect the body from cancer and other potentially life threatening diseases, it makes sense that a healthy immune system might be linked to a longer life.
As the immune system ages, it loses its ability to do its job, and that, ultimately can lead to a shorter life. In the case of the study in Japan, Professor Katsuiku Hirokawa, of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, along with his team, studied 356 men and women who were healthy and between the ages of 20 and 90.
They tested cytokine levels, which are substances secreted by cells in the immune system that help to transmit signals between cells, and white blood cells. Then, the team looked at B-cell and T-cell levels because they are core indicators to the immune system. As women aged, they had a much higher level than men in the study.
While this is interesting, it might not be too surprising, given observational data, but what researchers did not know before the study, was that women maintain a higher level of CD4-T cells. These are the “helper cells,” which actually help to initiate the immune system’s response to diseases and illnesses that might cause people to get sick.
As anyone knows, when they are fighting any illness, even a common cold, the more quickly the immune system gets to work, the better the chances of getting over the illness more quickly. When it comes to issues such as cancer, an early immune system response can actually fight the disease more effectively and easily than once the disease has spread and become worse.
The immune system is a fairly complicated operation, and there are many different types of cells that activate to help ensure a body remains healthy, but in the end, women’s immune systems simply age more slowly and that leads to a longer life span for ladies around the world.