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Scientists have confounded the long-held tenet that sex is bad for your health. For Zambian mole-rats at least, a bit of the other extends lifespan.

The work by German researchers, to be published in the journal Current Biology goes against accepted wisdom that carnal gymnastics are biologically expensive and tend to decrease lifespan.

Zambian mole-rats have an unusual social structure, more akin to termites than most other mammals. In a family group just one pair does the baby-making while their offspring mostly stick around and stay celibate to help with raising more young, digging tunnels and foraging for food.

By examining 20 years of breeding habits, the team found that the fortunate few who got their end away on a regular basis lived on average twice as long. The authors of the report hope the discovery could shed new light on the evolution and mechanisms of ageing.

This latest news from the sex-age interface comes after yesterday's revelation that older men are more sexually satisfied. ®

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