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Long-lived Eunuchs

October 16, 2012

Over several centuries in Imperial Korea, eunuchs far outlived their non-castrated counterparts.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

The long life of eunuchs.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A team of Korean scientists may have identified a way to extend men’s lifespans: castration. At least that’s what history tells us, according to Inha University gerontologist KJ Min. His team analyzed the lifespans of eunuchs, or castrated males, in Imperial Korea. Castration added up to 20 years to their lifespan.

KJ MIN (Inha University, South Korea):

The average lifespan of a eunuch from mid-sixteenth century to mid-nineteenth century was 70 years. The average lifespan of a normal male who lived at the same time was 50 to 56 years.

HIRSHON:
The results support the existing hypothesis that testosterone somehow shortens men’s life expectancy. The research may eventually lead to less drastic ways to manage whatever the hormone’s negative effects may be.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

The testosterone molecule. Too much could be bad for your health. (Ben Mills/Wikimedia Commons)