JUN 08, 2015 04:25 PM PDT

Scoop on Supercentenarians

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
Life expectancy in the US is at an all-time high, according to a 2014 report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That report listed life expectancy on the average at 78 years and 9 ½ months and revealed an interesting discrepancy: a girl born in 2012 could expect to live to81.2 years, while a boy born in the same year could expect to live to age 76.4 (http://news.health.com/2014/10/13/why-do-women-live-longer-than-men/).
Why do women live longer than men?
Why are 95 percent of supercentenarians - people who live to 110 - women? What is it about women that enables them to live longer?

Stanford University researchers Ben Dulken and Anne Brunet believe that the answer is in the stem cells. They argue that researchers need to investigate the differences in regenerative decline between men and women. The researchers believers that this type of investigation could uncover new explanations as to the ways in which the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, or possibly other factors, such as stress and risk taking, modify lifespan.

According to an article in Science Daily, "Why Are 95 Percent of People Who Live to 110 Women?" (June 4, 2015), scientists know that "estrogen has direct effects on stem cell populations in female mice, from increasing the number of blood stem cells (which is very helpful during pregnancy) to enhancing the regenerative capacity of brain stem cells at the height of estrus" (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150604141903.htm).

The specific effect that these changes might have on the human lifespan is what researchers want to understand. Studies that have been done in the past few years have determined that estrogen supplements add time to the lifespan of male mice. Researchers have also discovered that human eunuchs have a lifespan that is about 14 years longer than that of non-castrated males.

Scientists believe that additional work is necessary to determine how genetics impacts stem cell aging between the sexes. They have found that knocking out different genes in mice can increase the longevity of one sex but not of the other. Another factor is that "males in twin studies have shorter telomeres -- a sign of shorter cellular lifespan -- compared to females, the article said.

Dulken and Brunet concluced, "It is likely that sex plays a role in defining both lifespan and healthspan, and the effects of sex may not be identical for these two variables. As the search continues for ways to ameliorate the aging process and maintain the regenerative capacity of stem cells, let us not forget one of the most effective aging modifiers: sex."
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
You May Also Like
DEC 06, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 06, 2019
We Already Have the Ingredients for the Next Food Revolution
The third agricultural revolution changed the way millions of people lived in the 1950s and 60s. It's now time for another one....
DEC 06, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 06, 2019
Learning More About the Basis of a Woman's Biological Clock
Most women know that their fertility begins to decline as they age. Now researchers are learning more about the physiological reasons for that change....
DEC 06, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
DEC 06, 2019
Gene Variant Could Be a Therapeutic Target For Alzheimer Disease
A variation in genetics for an individual at high-risk for Alzheimer development has defied the odds for being dementia-free way beyond anticipated. The in...
DEC 06, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 06, 2019
22 Genes Discovered that Predict Skin Cancer from Sun Exposure
Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, with around 49 cases per 100,000 people. Now, researchers at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Researc...
DEC 06, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 06, 2019
Why is Some Chicken So Chewy? Researchers Have an Answer
Some broiler chickens suffer from wooden breast syndrome, which causes their meat to turn chewy and hard. Birds with this disorder can't be sold....
DEC 06, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 06, 2019
Depression is Not Caused By Genetics
Since the discovery of DNA, attributing the cause of illnesses to genetic reasons became trendy. Depression was no exception- with hundreds of studies havi...
Loading Comments...