Women across the globe are living longer after the age of 50 according to a new study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In the September issue of the WHO Bulletin, researchers state that female lives are being extended longer past the age of 50 as a result of improved health care for non-communicable diseases.
“In both developed and developing countries, the leading causes of death among older women were cardiovascular diseases and cancers,” they wrote in the study. “In countries with death registration data, cardiovascular and cancer mortality appears to have declined in older women in recent decades and this decline has resulted in improved life expectancy at age 50.”
Though deaths from cancer notably decreased, they did so at a rate less than cardiovascular disease.
“Worldwide in 2011, women comprised 53 percent of adults aged 50 years or older and 59 percent of adults aged 70 and above,” said the report. “The share of the globe’s population comprising older women is also projected to increase—from 12 percent in 2011 to 19 percent in 2050.”
Authors of the study said that significant gains have been made in the many areas of women’s health, but females in middle and lower class communities are expected to slowly fall behind their counterparts in upper classes and more developed countries when it comes to aging.
According to the World Health Organization, this means that women living in countries with higher wages add a total of about 24 years to their lives just by not living in a low-income area.
With a focus on reproductive health, contraception education and support above other concerns, many women in developing countries have decreased their exposure to opportunities for preventative medicines for non-communicable diseases, leaving room for the health gap between social classes to widen in the coming decades.
The study also took into account global epidemics, such as the HIV and AIDS. An increase in female smokers was also noted.
WHO researchers also placed special emphasis on women’s health after 50. Doctors and patients are encouraged to talk about sexual health after menopause and the importance of cancer screening.
Women are also encouraged to avoid smoking, exercise on a regular basis, and take preventative measures necessary to prevent the development of a non-communicable disease early in life. These diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, account for one third of the female mortality rate globally.