Why Do More Women Than Men Get Chronic Illnesses?

More women report chronic illnesses than men. Why is that?

"At least 9 in 10 people with SLE are female." (source)

"Fibromyalgia is characterised by chronic generalised muscle pain. The male:female ratio is 1:9." (source)

"While the percentage of women diagnosed with ME/CFS is higher than the percentage of men, ME/CFS is not a "women's disease." Thirty-five to forty percent of diagnosed patients are men." (source)

Not surprisingly, the difference appears to be related to hormone differences. It seems like the different hormonal profile makes females more susceptible to inflammation.

"Epidemiologic, observational and experimental evidence strongly suggest sex steroids are important modulators of genetic risk in human AD" (autoimmune diseases). (source)

The hormone estrogen (oestrogen) has been linked to the stimulation of T and B cells, macrophages and cytokines. (for reference see here and here). Adult women have 15-350 pg/mL of estradiol whereas adult men have 10-40 pg/mL.

The hormone progesterone is thought to be anti-inflammatory, and low levels compared to controls have been seen in women with Lupus. Progesterone levels rise during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Otherwise, the levels are under 1ng/mL in women and men.

Elevated prolactin levels have been associated with active Lupus. Adult women have 2 to 29 ng/mL of DHEA whereas adult men have 2-18 ng/mL. Pregnant women have 10-209 ng/mL.

The hormone DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone), a precursor to testosterone, is an androgen has immunosuppressive properties. Adult women have 130-980 ng/dL of DHEA whereas adult men have 180-1250 nh/dL.