Is Removing Your Testicles The Key To Long Life?

By Amir Khan on September 24, 2012 2:38 PM EDT

Eunuch
A eunuch from the Qing Dynasty in 1911 (Photo: Creative Commons)

Given the choice being keeping your testicles and living longer, most men would choose the former. But according to a new study, published in the journal Current Biology, men who have their testicles removed live longer than those who keep them attached.

Researchers looked at Korea's royal court during the Chosun Dynasty, which existed from 1392-1910. During that time, many boys underwent castration to secure high-ranking positions within the palace. Researchers found that these eunuchs lived, on average, 14-19 years longer than their ball-having counterparts.

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These eunuchs typically lived to be 70 years old, while the average lifespan of the kings was 47. In addition, three of the 81 eunuchs lived to be 100 -- giving the group a centenarian rate 130 times the rate of current developed nations, according to Reuters.

Animals that are castrated typically live longer as well, and while the exact cause for the longer lifespan is unclear, researchers said it may have to do with lower testosterone levels. Testosterone is an immunosuppressant, researchers said, which can increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.

The eunuchs were deployed as guards throughout the palace, and were often trusted to guard harems. These eunuchs were allowed to marry and often had families through adoption, researchers said. And while they did live a privileged life, experts said that likely had nothing to do with their long life.

"Except for a few eunuchs, most lived outside the palace and spent time inside the palace only when they were on duty," Kyung-Jin Min, a researcher from Inha University, told Reuters.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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