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Popul Bull UN. 1985;(18):59-76.

What do we know about causes of sex differences in mortality? A review of the literature.

Abstract

PIP:

Current evidence concerning the causes of sex differences in mortality is reviewed. The 1st section of the paper summarizes results of studies that identify major causes of death which contribute to sex differences in total mortality and then identifies factors that contribute to sex differences for those causes of death. The 2nd section summarizes evidence concerning the causes of historical and cross-cultural variation in sex differences in mortality. General issues and hypotheses concerning the causes of sex differences in mortality are discussed in the 3rd section. The evidence reviewed indicates that sex differences in mortality are influenced by a wide variety of environmental and genetic factors. The relative importance of particular factors varies greatly, depending on socioeconomic and cultural conditions. In contemporary industrial societies the single most important cause of higher mortality for males has been greater cigarette smoking. Genetic factors that may play a role include a possible protective effect of endogenous female sex hormones that may reduce women's risk of ischemic heart disease. Historical trends and cross-cultural variation in sex differences in mortality reflect the differential effects on male and female mortality of variation in technology, economic conditions and cultural influences on behavior. The diversity and complexity demonstrated by current evidence leads to the rejection or qualification of previously proposed generalizations. In this regard, the relative importance of sex differences in incidence of disease vs. sex differences in prognosis or survival rates in determining sex differences in mortality, is addressed.

PMID:
12314310
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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