Intended for healthcare professionals


WHO report shows that women outlive men worldwide

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 05 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1631
  1. Jacqui Thornton
  1. London, UK

Women outlive men everywhere in the world, and the gap in life expectancy would be even wider if women in low income countries had better access to healthcare, a new global report shows.

The World Health Organization’s World Health Statistics Overview 20191—broken down by sex for the first time—shows that when facing the same disease, men seek healthcare less than women.

Men are much more likely to die from preventable and treatable non-communicable diseases, such as ischaemic heart disease and lung cancer, and road traffic accidents.

When women can access healthcare, maternal deaths decrease, lengthening their life expectancy. But when they can’t, in low income countries, the life expectancy gap narrows.

Breast cancer, maternal conditions, cervical cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease are the causes of death that most reduce female rather than male life expectancy.

Richard Cibulskis, the report’s main author, …

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