A new Japanese study has found that women's immune systems age more slowly than men's (misandry!), which is why, statistically, women slightly outlive men. As we age and our immune systems decline, we become more susceptible to disease and infection. This happens to women too, of course, but the study suggests it happens slightly earlier in men. Sooooo...girl power? Or whatever?
Researchers took blood samples from 365 men and women between the ages of 20 and 90, and tested for white blood cells and cytokines (molecules that help regulate disease response).
In both sexes, the number of white blood cells per person declined with age as expected from previous studies.
However, closer examination revealed differences between men and women in two key components of the immune system - T-cells, which protect the body from infection, and B-cells, which secrete antibodies.
The rate of decline of most T-cell and B-cell lymphocytes was faster in men, while men also showed a more rapid age-related decline in two cytokines.
Two specific types of immune system cell that attack invaders - CD4 T-cells and natural killer cells - increased in number with age, with a higher rate of increase in women than in men.
So, do women age more slowly because of our immune systems, or do our immune systems age more slowly because women's bodies in general naturally age more slowly? This dude who didn't work on the study thinks it's the latter: "It's likely that the slower ageing in the immune system of women reflects a generally slower rate of intrinsic ageing, rather than that the immune system itself is setting the pace." (Haha, u jealz, Prof Tom Kirkwood of the Institute of Ageing and Health at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne!)
Either way, I'll take it, I guess? Except not really, because actually what I'm going to need to happen is for none of my loved ones of any gender to ever die, ever—at least until 5-10 minutes after I'm VERIFIABLY corpsified (of old age, in my sleep, clean sheets, down comforter, kittens, Harry Potter audiobook, open window, rain, little spoon, simultaneously with my old husband). Then you guys can all do whatever. Go nuts. Die all over the place. Can you take care of that, Japanese age scientists? Thx in advance.
Image via Getty.