Women are finally about to achieve equality with men…in terms of mortality. In fact, a recent analysis–published in the journal Health Affairs–found that women don’t live longer than men do. Women used to live longer. But not anymore.
Keep in mind, overall longevity for both men and women has generally been increasing for the past century. But deaths that occur at younger ages–called premature deaths–have a profound effect on average longevity.
And this seems to be what is dragging down longevity for women in this country. In fact, the study revealed a widespread increase in premature deaths among women. Especially among women in the western and southern parts of the country.
For this analysis, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, looked at death rates between 1992 and 2006 for 3,140 counties around the country. Of these counties, 43 percent showed a rise in premature deaths among women. Researchers, in this case, defined death as “premature” when a woman died before reaching the age of 75 years.
During this same time, the premature death rates for men only increased in 3 percent of counties.
So, what accounts for this huge difference between women and men over that decade-and-a-half?
First of all, these were averages. So, in some counties, premature deaths decreased in both men and women.
Overall, researchers found decreases in mortality associated with higher incomes, higher proportion of Latinos, and higher education. They found increases in mortality linked with lower education levels. They also found it occurred more often in counties in the West and the rural South.
The availability of medical care had no relationship to mortality whatsoever. The researchers found this fact surprising. But if you saw my Daily Dispatch last summer, you won’t find this the least bit surprising!
In fact, the government’s latest intrusions into the lives of all Americans…supposedly, to extend and expand the availability of health care…will not likely improve longevity. At least according to these results.
But the most startling finding of all did not get much attention…
Why is the rate of premature deaths in women increasing so dramatically? Fifteen times faster than rates for men.
Do you think it is really because women suddenly started eating more salt and fats? Did they suddenly start smoking more? And did they really engage in all these risk factors at a rate 15 times greater than men did?
No. I don’t think so.
It is well known that women pay more attention than men do to health recommendations from doctors. And even from the government. More women follow the government’s good health guidelines, but they’re still dropping like flies.
So, what does not compute?
For a long time, men led women in premature deaths. This is one reason why women lived longer than men.
But something must have changed in the early 1990s.
And I think it’s stress.
Stress is the silent killer that turns the mind into a slayer. And it’s the real explanation for high blood pressure and heart disease. And probably for most metabolic and immune disorders.
My bet is that women now experience the same stress from the workplace as men. Or even greater.
Let the politically correct legions raise their fingers, but I think that the widespread entry of women into the workplace, and the phenomenon of the working mother, has made life much more stressful for women. And for men. And for their children.
So, it seems that women really can have it all. Including higher premature death rates.
At the same time, consider the new stressful reality of middle-class American life. It now takes two “middle class” incomes to raise a family, pay a mortgage, and send children to college. And even then, many still aren’t making it.
So, it has become a Catch-22. Women have finally achieved equality. But they’re paying for it in droves.
Here’s something else I found interesting…
Women in the South and the West experienced the highest hikes in premature death. Government finger-waggers can probably accept the fact the women in the South die younger. They slam all people in the South for their relatively “unhealthy” habits. Like smoking, eating more fat, and drinking more soft drinks. Although, in the South, there’s generally a somewhat slower and healthier pace and attitude toward life.
But why are women dying young even in the golden West? Isn’t the West the paradigm for good health and political correctness? Where they have already banned everything, including common sense and balanced budgets.
Maybe it is because their pseudo-socialist state and local governments can’t pay their bills. Or maybe it’s because high taxes are driving employers and businesses away, leaving economic ruin. Or maybe it’s because they’ve ruined their economy with taxes and regulations. Or maybe it’s because the traffic is simply unbearable. Maybe it’s because housing–and life in general–has become completely unaffordable in the past quarter-century for the average middle class family not protected by “grandfathered” tax rates.
L.A., for example, is now the dystopian image of a Ridley Scott movie, based on the stories of Philip K. Dick. In the one I am thinking about, only the androids lived a long time. Perhaps their solution is to turn us all into automatons.
With the passing of the Affordable Healthcare Act, that may just turn into a reality. And the women will die off just as fast as the men will. I apologize for the darkness of this vision, but there are things you can do to protect yourself. And I will keep telling you about them.
1. Health Affairs 2013; 32: 451-458.