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Women’s Immune Systems Age Slower than Men: Study

First Posted: May 15, 2013 07:40 AM EDT

A new study says that the reason women live longer than men is because they have better immune systems. According to a study published in the journal Immunity and Ageing, women's immune systems age more slowly when compared to men.

To prove their finding, researchers analyzed the blood of healthy volunteers in Japan who belonged to the age group of 20-90. The study group consisted of both males and females. Researchers noticed that the total number of white blood cells in each participant dropped with age. Apart from this, the number of neutrophils, the most common type of WBCs, decreased in both men and women, and lymphocytes decreased in men but increased in women.

The level of lymphocytes is high in younger men when compared to women of the same age, so as aging occurs, the count of lymphocytes becomes comparable.

The researchers noted that the rate of decline in both the T cells and B cells were slow for women when compared to men. Both CD4+ T cells and NK cells increased with age, and this rate of increase was more in women than men. The age-related drop in IL-6 and IL-10 was bad in men. In addition, there was an age-dependent decrease in red blood cells for men, whereas the same was not applicable for women.

"The process of aging is different for men and women for many reasons. Women have more oestrogen than men which seems to protect them from cardiovascular disease until menopause. Sex hormones also affect the immune system, especially certain types of lymphocytes. Because people age at different rates a person's immunological parameters could be used to provide an indication of their true biological age," said professor Katsuiku Hirokawa, from the Tokyo Medical & Dental University Open Laboratory, in a press statement.

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