In terms of physical strength, it's no secret that men typically outperform women. When you look beyond pure physical power, however, modern research suggests that women actually are stronger than men at every stage of development.
Potential evidence that women may be the stronger sex begins at conception. Women conceive 115 male fetuses for every 100 female fetuses, but only 104 boys are born for every 100 girls, which suggests that the chance of a miscarriage is higher for male fetuses [source: Perls and Fretts]. For those who survive, birth is just the beginning of the male human's perilous journey through life. Boys are twice as likely to be mentally disabled as are girls, and four times as likely to develop autism [source: Newschaffer et al]. In fact, studies show that boys are statistically more vulnerable than girls to have every major birth defect [sources: Lary and Paulozzi, Science Australia].
By the time they reach their teens, male adolescents face even greater risks. Men are three times more likely than women to die from violent or reckless behaviors in their teens and early 20s. Throughout their entire lifetimes, men experience much higher rates of substance abuse, and are more likely than women to use tobacco. They also face much higher risks of automobile accidents at virtually every stage of life [source: Perls and Fretts].
In their later years, men face greater risks of heart disease, and often develop this disease much earlier in life than women do. When you consider the 10 major causes of death in the U.S., including cancer and other serious illnesses, men are 1.4 times more likely to die from any one of these causes than women [source: Harvard Medical School].
Perhaps most indicative of whether men represent the weaker sex is the fact that women in the developed world enjoy life expectancies five to seven years longer than those of men [source: Harvard Medical School]. This difference in life expectancy isn't a modern phenomenon, either: Scientists believe that women have lived longer than men since at least the 16th century, despite the dangers women traditionally faced during childbirth before modern medical care developed [source: Perls and Fretts].
Much of a woman's medical strength comes from her superior immune system. Female hormones give women natural protection against disease and infection, but these same hormones also might give their immune systems a bit too much power. Women make up roughly 80 percent of all patients with autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis [source: Institute for Women's Health Research].
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