The Loh Down On Science

Historical Pickle

And, now, your weekly State of the Eunuchs.
 
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science
 
Saying, okay, so it's not weekly. But it is about eunuchs--males whose testes have been removed. Turns out they're a useful group for studying a possible connection between testosterone and longevity.
 
See, in many species, including ours, females outlive males. But why? One theory is that reproductive machismo comes at a cost--shorter lifespan. Testosterone does seem to predispose men to heart disease, for instance. But how to assess the theory?
 
Well, you could compare men with a full bag of male hormones to men without said bag. In Korea from the 16- to 1800s, eunuchs were important figures at court. And the court kept good records.
 
So biologists at Korea's Inha University studied the lives of 81 eunuchs.
 
When the team compared them to men of similar status who lived at the same time? The Korean eunuchs outlived the others by up to nineteen years!
 
More time for the Himchees to eat Kimchee. Sort of.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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