Is It Nuts to Want to Live to 100?

How many times have you ever said something like, “I’d give my left nut to [fill in the blank with something you really, really want…]”?  Of course you didn’t really mean that—and if you were suddenly presented with whatever it was that you wanted, you’d try to find another way to pay for it.

So here’s another question. Would you really give your left nut to be able to live to 100? Would you give them both?  A new study done in Korea suggests that men without testicles outlived men with a full sac by 14-19 years.

The study compared historical birth and death records of 81 eunuchs (men who had their testicles removed) to non-eunuchs from the same social and economic status. In many studies, it’s hard to tell what, exactly, produces results. For example, a study done a few years back showed that men who had three or more daughters had a greater risk of developing prostate cancer than men with fewer girls. But daughters don’t cause cancer (although I know from plenty of experience that they can cause a significant increase in blood pressure…). Instead, the gene that increases prostate cancer risk may also increase production of the kind of sperm that result in female babies.

Okay, back to the Korean eunuchs. Since all the men (those with and without balls) were living in the same general conditions, the difference in lifespan between the haves and the have-nots, was way too big to have been random. Of course, other factors—diet, exercise, stress levels—may have contributed to the difference in lifespan, but they wouldn’t account for all of it.

What was especially interesting was that out of the 81 eunuchs studied, three lived to at least 100—and this was back in the 19th century, when lifespans were considerably shorter than they are today. But even with all our 21st century medical technology, only one in 4,000 men in the US and one in 3,500 in Japan make it to 100.

Researchers are taking a closer look at whether the presence of testosterone–which is produced in the testicles–may be one of the reasons men don’t live as long as women do. But how much is living to 100 worth to you?

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