1 Men smoke more
2 Men drink more
3 Men eat more high cholesterol foods
4 Men more aggressive - testerone
5 Men partake in more dangerous activities
6 More men tend to partake in criminal activities
7 Suicide - men more successful
8 Women stronger immune system
9 Delay of onset of cardiovascular disease
10 Women make safer choices, men riskier choices
In the past, researchers and demographers have chalked this longevity gap up to biological factors, which range from women's supposedly stronger immune system to the genetic benefits of having two X chromosomes.
One reason for that delay in onset of cardiovascular disease could be that women are relatively iron-deficient compared to men — especially younger women, those in their late teens and early 20s — because of menstruation. Iron plays a very important part in the reactions in our cells that produce damaging free radicals, which glom onto cell membranes and DNA, and may translate into aging the cell. In fact, in our diets, red meat is the main source of iron, and lack of iron is probably one major reason that being vegetarian is healthy for you. There was a very good study looking at the intake of red meat and heart disease in Leiden in the Netherlands: in regions where people didn't eat red meat, those populations had half the rate of heart attack and stroke compared to the populations that did eat red meat.
[There are a few other reasons that men die earlier in life more often than women.] Men in their late teens and 20s go through something called "testosterone storm." The levels of the hormone can be quite high and changeable, and that can induce some pretty dangerous behavior among young men. They don't wear their seatbelts; they drink too much alcohol; they can be aggressive with weapons and so on and so forth. These behaviors lead to a higher death rate.
Another area where we see higher death rates among men is among the depressed — especially older men. If they attempt suicide, they are more likely to succeed than women.
But, in general, there are maybe three things men do worse than women. They smoke a lot more. (That gender gap is fortunately shrinking, since men are smoking less and less.) They eat more food that leads to high cholesterol. And, perhaps related to that, men tend not to deal with their stress as well as women. They may be more prone to internalizing that stress rather than letting go — though that's a fairly controversial point. Nonetheless, stress plays a very important role in cardiovascular disease.