I’m Just Saying: Is it just me, or is it hot in here?

Published 8:00 am Friday, October 5, 2018

Everyone has known for ages that women, on average, live longer than men, and now researchers appear to have found that there is a reason why women actually age slower.

We do everything slower, by the way. We’re exhausted. But that’s not the reason.

Turns out that estrogen, the hormone that gives us our feminine appearance, fertility and the desire to punch you guys in the throat when you opine that we’re grumpy because “it’s that time of the month” protects cells from wear and tear.

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And that’s not all, gents.

We have something quite important that is longer than yours. But we’re secure enough in ourselves that we feel no reason to lie about its length.

I’m talking telomeres, the set of genetic information at the tips of chromosomes. Now, pay attention, class, because there’s going to be a pop quiz at the end of this column.

Telomeres are like bodyguards. They keep vital genetic material in the rest of the chromosome from getting damaged, especially as cells replicate. And cells replicate constantly, which, over time, beats up the telomeres, which is when cells begin to age and die, dragging our health and well-being along with it. 

It’s not just the way things go, we contribute to the trauma which kills those little genetic end caps by stress (so no more watching anything about Kavanaugh), and bad habits (slugging back Jaegermeister while watching the news about Kavanaugh). 

For women, it all comes back to what makes us sniffle through Hallmark Christmas movies: estrogen. And what’s weird is that while on one hand, estrogen fuels some cancers, it also has protective effects against other diseases.

And higher levels of estrogen are thought to help keep our tickers in good working order and produce healthier bones, too. That’s why you see all those mature women during commercials hiking through the woods and patting a horse on its neck without their wrists snapping in half — because as we get older, Aunty Estrogen (that does so sound like a southern mee-maw and you know it) bids us adieu, and some women take hormone replacement therapy for bone loss.

Science is fascinating, isn’t it? Particularly biology.

If you’d like to read more about this study you can Google the lead author, Dr. Elissa Epel. As a matter of fact, she presented her research just today at the annual meeting of The North American Menopause Society.

I’ve no idea where that meeting was held, but I can guarantee you the air conditioning was cranked wide open…