women live longer than men
Why are women's life expectancy longer than men's? Image: Pixabay

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Why do women live longer than men?

Men are still living shorter lives than women. Despite improvements in medicine, what is driving this life expectancy trend?

07-06-24 14:33
women live longer than men
Why are women's life expectancy longer than men's? Image: Pixabay

With advances in medicine and improvements in lifestyle, men have the opportunity to live longer. However, men still trail women in life expectancy.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the life expectancy gap between men and women has widened.

Data shows that women still outlive men. There are various reasons for this.


Today, on average, women survive men by over five years.

While it is true that men face unique health challenges and risks, a key reason for the widening life expectancy gap is that men often avoid seeking medical help until it’s too late.

This is particularly problematic, as statistics show that men are more likely to suffer from serious and chronic illnesses, which is a key factor in them having shorter life expectancies than women.


With June being Men’s Health Month, it is the perfect time to raise awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.

Denelle Morais, Marketing and Communications Manager at Bestmed Medical Scheme, says increased awareness of health issues could make a significant difference.

“Men tend to bow to cultural norms and societal pressure, meaning they are hesitant to appear weak or vulnerable. This leads them to avoid check-ups for so long that their physical health has often regressed to a point where it might be too late,” says Morais. “Furthermore, many men often neglect scheduling their necessary health screenings, just as they are when it comes to eating a healthy diet or talking with medical professionals about stress. This is why it’s important for men to be proactive about their health by scheduling regular check-ups and seeking treatment early for concerning symptoms.” Morais said.


Broadly speaking, the three biggest health challenges men face are the threats of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and various forms of cancer, notably prostate and testicular cancer.

Cardiovascular disease is dangerous as it increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, two leading causes of death among men.

Guarding against this begins with lifestyle choices. When it comes to diabetes, men need to be aware that they should be screened for the disease from the age of 45.

If left untreated, high blood pressure may lead to heart disease or strokes, as well as damage to the kidneys, nerves, and eyes, among other issues.


Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. 

Statistics indicate that on average, the lifetime risk for prostate cancer in men in South Africa is 1 in 15.

“Much like with testicular cancer, early detection of prostate cancer improves the chances of a positive outcome, which is why men over the age of 40 should be undertaking regular prostate screenings,” Morais says.


Morais says statistics reveal that over the last three years, preventative screening PSA testing (prostate specific antigen) have been accessed by only 14% of men over 40, year-on-year.

The start of 2024 has, however, seen an increase, with almost 19% accessing preventative screenings in the first few months of the year.

“We understand that many men find the dreaded ‘prostate check’ terrifying, so much so that this form of cancer, which is highly treatable in its early stages, often goes undetected until it is too late. We, therefore, are encouraged by the rising screening numbers and further encourage monthly testicular self-examinations, as well as annual medical check-ups,” said Morais.

Events such as the Dare Devil Run aim to raise awareness of men’s cancers.

Participants can opt for free PSA testing at this organised event, which attracts thousands of runners.