The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting, which takes place in San Diego this week, will address the question of why women usually live longer than men. Experts will review the latest studies on the protective effects of sex hormones and estrogen, and will provide tips for improving telomere health to slow down the aging process.
While the gender gap in longevity is not fully understood, it may be at least partially attributed to the effect of estrogen on heart health. This hormone is believed to help protect women from heart disease for a longer period in life.
To investigate why women may age more slowly than men, researchers looked at the rate of cellular aging. From birth, women have longer telomeres, which are the endcaps of DNA strands that protect chromosomes from deterioration.
The significance of telomeres in living a longer, healthier life has been long understood. Recently, there is a growing collection of studies focused on how telomere length is damaged and what can be done to prevent this damage. Since longer telomeres predict less cardiovascular disease, they are indicative of a longer life for both men and women.
In her Keynote Address at the upcoming meeting, Dr. Elissa Epel from the University of California in San Francisco will provide a detailed look at the factors that influence telomere length, with an emphasis on women’s reproductive health, hormones, and mental health.
“Some experimental studies suggest estrogen exposure increases the activity of telomerase, the enzyme that can protect and elongate telomeres,” said Dr. Epel.
Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, the NAMS executive director, added: “We look forward to what promises to be a fascinating presentation with implications for slowing telomere attrition and age-related conditions.”
The study is published in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.