Unwilling to let cliched jokes about wives slowly draining the life out of their husbands stand as fact, scientists have long been curious as to why women outlive men and at several points they have determined that the answer rests somewhat comfortably (depending on what kind of pants you’re wearing) between men’s legs. Yes, according to some studies, the nutless few have a better chance at living a long life (spent on a window seat, staring at the rain and wondering why) than those of us who dangle proudly until our last breath.
Now, I don’t want to get philosophical with you, but to paraphrase Michael Murphy’s lyrics, “What’s the glory in living (without your nads)? […] What’s forever for?” You know? No disrespect to anyone who has had to soldier on without due to illness or accident, but these are vital components. Can I trade a leg or an arm? A lung? Put me on one of those pig hearts, but please leave the peaches in place.
The Straight Dope’s Cecil Adams provides a tidy summary of their investigation, the findings of which are published in 1969 issue of The Journal of Gerontology:
“[Hamilton and Mestler] compared the lifespans of 297 castrated inmates at a Kansas institution for the mentally retarded with those of 735 intact males at the same facility. The castrated males had gone under the knife at ages from 8 to 59 years old, with the average age ranging from 12 (!) in 1898 to 30 in 1923. They 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.
Result: 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.”
The findings suggested that one side-effect of testosterone may be an abbreviated lifespan, and that curbing the sex hormone’s release could help males live longer. Hamilton and Mestler hypothesized that testosterone’s ill-effects, and the life-prolonging benefits of castration, applied to males of all species, due in large part to a wideheld belief that castrated animals live longer than their intact counterparts. But the evidence for these assumptions is rather ambiguous.
Ambiguous is a good word. A great word. And in fact, though a Korean study came to the same conclusion while studying eunuch guards from the 1500s to the 1800s (tons of commonality between their lifestyles and the typical man’s, I’m sure), there are people in white coats who are throwing shade at the overall notion. And they also think that you should absolutely hang onto your nuts for as long as you can and not fall for the hype about de-balling your way to a longer life. These are good people. Salt of the earth.
If you’re a man, and you’re considering taking drastic measures to extend your lifespan, you should know that everyone seems to agree that castration is not the answer. “I would not recommend becoming a eunuch,” says Dr. L. Stephen Coles, a co-founder of the Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group. Taking drugs to reduce your sex hormones is also a bad idea, he says, pushing the quality v. quantity of life angle, adding that this could have undesirable side-effects, e.g. severely diminishing one’s sex drive.
Min and the other authors of the Korean eunuch study, agree. There are less drastic ways to extend one’s life. Smoke less. Eat better. Exercise more. You know, the usual. “For better health and longevity,” they write, “stay away from stresses and learn what you can from women.”
I feel like I just reduced my stress ten-fold, how bout you?