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Why women live longer - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Nov. 27th, 2003

02:44 pm - Why women live longer

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Why women live longer
Canadian Press

Ottawa — If men dropped their risky ways and bad habits they would live just as long as women, suggests a major new report on women's health.

The study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information rejects the widespread assumption that women live longer because of an inborn biological advantage.

"If you could stop accidents and smoking-related diseases and things like that in men, in fact the life expectancy's exactly the same," Donna Stewart, chairwoman of women's health at the Women's Health Network and co-author of the report, said in an interview.

According to statistics from 1997 to 1999, Canadian women have a life expectancy of 81.4 years compared with 75.9 years for men.

When deaths from preventable causes are excluded, however, life expectancy for women is 73.5 years, slightly less than the average of 73.9 for men.

"It's not biological advantage that makes the difference, it's the kind of habits that people have that make the difference."

Other findings in the study:

* More than half of single mothers experience "food insecurity," which means they worry about having enough to eat.
* Young women who live in rural areas have an overall mortality rate 2.5 times that of their counterparts in the city.
* Women are more dissatisfied with their bodies than men, even when they're in the ideal weight range.
* Between 1973 and 1998, the incidence of breast cancer increased 25 per cent. The study says the increase is not understood although better detection is one factor.
* Forty per cent of sexually active unmarried young women report not using contraception consistently.
* 42.4 per cent of women aged 15-24 report violence from their partners.
* Young women aged 15-19 have six times the average rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea infections.
* Among young Canadians aged 15-19, women now account for 44.5 per cent of new positive HIV tests


[User Picture]
Date:November 27th, 2003 01:48 pm (UTC)
That doesn't make sense. How do you EXCLUDE some causes of death and come up with a LOWER life expectancy?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
Date:November 27th, 2003 02:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree, it doesn't make sense. I think that the reporter/editor garbled the statistics. This article on the same subject has more plausible numbers:


Women live longer, not better: report
Last Updated Tue, 30 Sep 2003 21:52:59

OTTAWA - The long-accepted common knowledge that women live longer than men has been challenged in a new report.

When preventable deaths are factored out, men live longer than women
"Most of the life expectancy gap comes from the fact that more men die early from preventable causes, such as smoking-related diseases," said Dr. Donna Stewart, chair of women's health at Toronto's University Health Network.

Stewart was one of 60 experts who wrote the Women's Health Surveillance Report released on Tuesday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), which funded the study along with Health Canada.

The report says that while the average Canadian woman lives longer than the average man, the figures hide some serious health risks faced by women.

"Women actually have higher rates of disability than men," said Stewart. "Even very young women face some disturbing risks, from things like HIV and partner violence."

The report uses data from a number of databases looking for gender differences, even though much of the information was collected for other purposes and lacks "much of the context needed for gender analysis."

Nonetheless, CIHI calls the report "the first comprehensive look at the health of Canadian women."

The most recent life expectancy figures show Canadian women live on average 82.2 years, men 77.1 years.

The report's authors say these figures are misleading.

* FROM SEPT. 26, 2003: Heart disease biggest killer of women: WHO

"When all external causes were deleted, the sex gap in life expectancy was greatly reduced, at an estimated 84.9 and 82.7 years for women and men, indicating that women do not appear to have a large biological survival advantage but, rather, are at lower risk of preventable deaths," the report says.

After further statistical calculations, the report says the health adjusted life expectancy for men is slightly higher than that for women: 73.9 and 73.5 years, respectively.

The report also looks at health risks for younger women and older women, for rural women, and single mothers.

CIHI says the report highlights a need for more monitoring and research on women's health.

Written by CBC News Online staff
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
Date:November 27th, 2003 05:24 pm (UTC)
Since I haven't the data they're working with, the only thing I can guess is that statistically the "excluded" forms of death were some type of outlier misrepresenting a general sample (it could've been an outlier, misrepresented functional form, ommitted explanatory variables/proxy variable/intrepretable variables, etc.). For example, let's say a data set has a couple of large outliers, then when the variables are regressed, the line will be skewed up or down accordingly. This will cause the sample population to be misrepresented, and thus the parent population is probably misrepresented. As I said, since I don't have the data sets myself, I have no idea what problems they had, but coming from an econometric approach, that's my best guess as to what they meant.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
Date:November 28th, 2003 07:26 am (UTC)
But if I dropped my risky ways, wouldn 't that by definition make me a woman?
(Reply) (Thread)