Castrated men - sometimes called eunuchs - in the old Korean dynasty lived much longer than other men, according to a new study.
The findings suggest that male sex hormones such as testosterone may be one reason men tend to have shorter life spans than women, the researchers said. The study was published in the journal Current Biology.
The researchers studied genealogy records of noble members of the Imperial court of the Korean Chosun dynasty, which lasted from 1392 to 1910. The eunuchs lost their testicles in accidents - usually after being bitten by dogs - or underwent intentional castration to gain early access to the palace, according to a journal news release.
Eunuchs lived up to 20 years longer
Eunuchs lived 14 to 19 years longer than other men. Of the 81 eunuchs included in the study, three lived to be 100 or older.
The incidence of centenarians among the eunuchs was at least 130 times greater than in developed countries, according to Kyung-Jin Min of Inha University and Cheol-Koo Lee of Korea University.
They said the extended life spans of eunuchs can't be explained simply by the benefits of life in the palace, because they spent as much time outside the palace as inside it. And although the study showed an association between being castrated and a longer life span, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The history of castration
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