Most of us would give a lot to lengthen our lifespan, but there’s a limit for everyone. Men, you may have met your limit, unless you’re willing to give up your family jewels for an extra two decades of life.
As it turns out, men who have been castrated tend to have significantly longer lifespans. Let’s figure out why, starting with the gender gap in lifespan.
io9 reports that females live an average of 73.5 years while men live an average of 68.5 years. This gender gap persists around the globe. There are myriad possible reasons for the disparity, including simple differences in behavior — men, for example, are more likely to be struck by lightning and killed in motor vehicle accidents, most likely because they tend to engage in more dangerous, impulsive behavior. More incriminating still, men accounted for 93% of occupational deaths in the US in 2013.
One study however, published in a 1969 issue of The Journal of Gerentology, points to a biological reason for men’s shorter lifespans using a comparison between castrated and in-tact inmates at a Kansas institution for the mentally retarded. The Straight Dope summarizes the findings:
[The castrated inmates] didn’t vary markedly from intact inmates in terms of IQ, type of mental disability, and so on, suggesting there had been no firm criteria for the operation other than possibly your getting on the hospital staff’s nerves — too bad if you were an inmate but lucky for science, since except for castration the two groups were indistinguishable…
The castrated inmates on average lived 13.6 years longer than the intact ones (55.7 vs 69.3 years). What’s more, the earlier you were castrated, the longer you lived. Conclusion: testosterone kills.
Things only look worse for testosterone’s effect on lifespan. The adverse effects of castration demonstrated in this study, researchers Hamilton and Mestler hypothesize, applied to animals across all species. This hypothesis is mostly backed up by wideheld belief, but the science behind it is a bit shaky.
This study presents it as a pretty straightforward fact, but there are plenty of ifs, ands, and buts if you’re willing to dig into the issue. Read more at io9.