Feeds

Scientists: 'Castration is the key to a longer life'

The secret to a long life is knowing when to let them go

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Bollocks boffins studying the effects of male sex hormones on life expectancy have concluded that becoming a eunuch may be the key to living a lot longer.

Male members of many species, including Homo sapiens sapiens, live shorter lives than their female counterparts, and castrating some male animals will make them live longer. Scientists have long thought that the increased stresses on the heart caused by male sex hormones and the deleterious effect they have on the immune system is a factor in this.

Naturally, trying this out on humans would cause some ethical problems – not to mention a shortage of volunteers – so scientists researching the issue have had to use historical records from times past when eunuchs were less unique. So the team made an in-depth study of the lives of Korean eunuchs in the Chosun Dynasty (1392–1910), based on court records that could be verified against other historical data.

Eunuchs were the only males allowed to remain in the royal palaces overnight (apart from their masters), and many occupied important roles in the Korean civil service. China had a similar policy, as well as requiring all African slaves sold in the Middle Kingdom to be castrated before setting foot in the country.

The Koreans, as with many Asian civilizations, were prodigious record keepers, and the Yang-Se-Gye-Bo, compiled in 1805, gives a detailed family history of the eunuch class at court. Important eunuchs would adopt children who had either been accidentally castrated, or who had been deliberately neutered so that they could work in the palace.

The confirmable records for 81 castrati were cross-checked against those of three Korean families of a similar socio-economic background to exclude genetic differences. These came from the Mok and Shin families, who were predominantly high-ranking administrators, and the more martial Seo family.

The results, published in the journal Current Biology, show that eunuchs lived to an average age of 70, up to 19 years longer than their intact counterparts. Three of the eunuchs made it into triple figures, reaching 100, 101, and 109 years old - although it probably felt much longer. That's 130 times the rate of centenarians you'd expect to finds in a sample of humans today, and the team concludes that male sex hormones do have an effect on male longevity.

While the research is all very interesting El Reg wonders how much practical use this is. People work out, use potions and lotions, and try any number of remedies to gain a few more years on Planet Earth, but odds are that scrotal removal isn't going to be as popular a choice as regular exercise and eating five portions of fruits and veggies a day. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?