The avoidable reason men die earlier than women

The human lifespan has nearly doubled over the last 200 years and yet the US is one of the many affluent nations that has high morbidity statistics.

A new cohort-by-age analysis recently revealed that taking up heavy smoking at an early age is decreasing the lifespan of men around the world. Maarten Winsink, the lead author of the study and an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Biodemography, at the University of Southern Denmark said in a press release:

“We studied the part of life expectancy lived between ages 50 and 85 for high-income North America, high-income Europe and high-income Oceania for the period 1950-2015. Around 1950, males lived about two and a half years less than females. Around 1980, this difference had increased to about four and a half years. Then the difference in life expectancy declined to new lows of about two years in 2015.”

Progression of the smoking epidemic in high-income regions and its effects on male-female survival differences

According to the report, smoking was associated with the most deaths that occurred in the last 100 years.

Statistically speaking men tend to smoke more than women do, which explains the former’s higher mortality rates.

In order to explore the gender-based differences in smoking epidemiology further the researchers obtained data gathered by The World Health Organization between 1950 and 2015 from three geographic regions: high-income North America, high-income Europe, and high-income Oceania.

In all three regions smoking accounted for 50% of sex differences in life expectancy between ages 50 and 85 over the course of the study period. On the flip side, younger generations belonging to both genders studied appear to be smoking less and less.

According to a recent National Health Interview Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young Americans aged 18-24 showcased a decline in cigarette smoking of 21%. Currently, the trend is at an all-time low with this demo, sitting at a modest 10%.

The main reason older male cohorts from the new paper were dying so much younger than women is the age in which they start and the extent to which they continue to smoke into middle-age. The study found that men tended to die at around the time women began to pick up smoking.

Roughly 42 million people smoke in the US alone. One in five members of this demographic will die as a direct result of the toxic habit. The top ten correlative risks are as follows: lung cancer, illnesses that fall under the umbrella term, COPD, most notably emphysema and chronic bronchitis, heart disease, stroke. aortic aneurysms, oropharyngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, cataracts, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers write, “The smoking epidemic contributed substantially to the male-female survival gap and to the recent narrowing of that gap in high-income North America, high-income Europe, and high-income Oceania. The precipitous decline in smoking-attributable mortality in recent cohorts bodes somewhat hopeful. Yet, smoking-attributable mortality remains high, and therefore cause for cancer.”

The study, titled Progression of the smoking epidemic in high-income regions and its effects on male-female survival differences: a cohort-by-age analysis of 17 countries was co-authored by Maarten WensinkJesús-Adrián AlvarezSilvia RizziFanny Janssen and Rune Lindahl-Jacobsen.

Check out the full report in BMC Public Health.