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Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ., 8 June 2005
Vol. 2005, Issue 23, p. pe17
[DOI: 10.1126/sageke.2005.23.pe17]


Why Females Live Longer Than Males: Control of Longevity by Sex Hormones

Jose Viña, Consuelo Borrás, Juan Gambini, Juan Sastre, and Federico V. Pallardó

The authors are at the Departamento de Fisiología, Facultad de Medicina, Avenida Blasco Ibáñez 17, 46010 Valencia, Spain. E-mail: jose.vina{at}

Key Words: antioxidant enzymes • estrogen • free radicals • mitochondria • phytoestrogens • reactive oxygen species

Abstract: Females live longer than males in many species, including humans. We have traced a possible explanation for this phenomenon to the beneficial action of estrogens, which bind to estrogen receptors and increase the expression of longevity-associated genes, including those encoding the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. As a result, mitochondria from females produce fewer reactive oxygen species than those from males. Administering estrogens has serious drawbacks, however--they are feminizing (and thus cannot be administered to males) and may increase the incidence of serious diseases such as uterine cancer in postmenopausal women. Phytoestrogens, which are present in soy or wine, may have some of the favorable effects of estrogens without their undesirable effects. Study of gender differences in longevity may help us to understand the basic processes of aging and to devise practical strategies to increase the longevity of both females and males.

Citation: J. Viña, C. Borrás, J. Gambini, J. Sastre, F. V. Pallardó, Why Females Live Longer Than Males: Control of Longevity by Sex Hormones. Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ. 2005 (23), pe17 (2005).

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