Life expectancy for women over 50 increasing, but gap between rich and poor increasing

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87704200Women typically live longer than men in most parts of the world. This is thought to be due to biological, dietary, and behavioral differences, but the exact explanation is unknown. A bulletin published by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that globally, women are living even longer - but there are certain steps that can be taken to increase life expectancy in general.

Researchers analyzed mortality rates from 58 countries from 1970 to 2011, in an attempt to understand recent secular trends in women s health, and to address the health systems associated with them. Overall, the life expectancy of women over 50 is increasing globally.

The leading causes of death are cancer, heart disease and stroke, and fewer women over 50 in rich countries are dying from these diseases. These are easily treatable by lowering blood pressure with inexpensive drugs and screening for cervical and breast cancer according to Dr. John R. Beard, director of the W.H.O.'s department of aging, and one of the authors of the bulletin. But it is important to note that female mortality varies greatly based on the socioeconomic development of the area.

In wealthier countries, death rates from noncommunicable diseases, specifically stomach, colon, breast and cervical cancers, have fallen. And although the life expectancy for a woman living in a low or middle-income country has also increased, these women are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions, such as diabetes, resulting in earlier death than those women in high-income countries. WHO researchers add, the gap in life expectancy between such women in rich and poor countries is growing.

The bulletin also included a report on the right to reproductive health for women over 50 years of age. Reproductive matters may be a lower priority in women past the point of reproductive capability, as well as in areas characterized by low SES. However, this is problematic given that one of the leading causes of death in these areas is poor reproductive health. This report indicates that better access to contraception, and improvements in maternal health are vital for the health of women 50 years and older.