Healthy Life Extension
Will Castration Extend Your Life?
posted on October 2nd, 2012
Dear Future Centenarian,
What a question! What a choice!
But a recent eunuch study raises some interesting longevity possibilities. No, I™m not suggesting you run out and have your ____ cut off. But you may want to STOP doing some popular anti-aging protocols which may actually be SHORTENING your life.
Castration had a huge effect on the lifespans of Korean men, according to an analysis of hundreds of years of eunuch "family" records. They lived up to 19 years longer than uncastrated men from the same social class and even outlived members of the royal family.
The researchers believe the findings show male hormones shorten life expectancy. The study is published in the journal Current Biology.
Castration before puberty prevents the shift from boy to man. One of the scientists involved in the study, Dr Cheol-Koo Lee from Korea University, said: "The records said that eunuchs had some women-like appearances such as no moustache hair, large breasts, big hips and thin high-pitched voice."
Eunuchs had important roles in many cultures from protecting harems to castrati superstar singing sensations. The imperial court of the Korean Chosun dynasty used eunuchs to guard the gates and manage food. They were the only men outside the royal family allowed to spend the night in the palace.
They could not have children of their own, so they adopted girls or castrated boys. Researchers in South Korea analyzed the genealogical record of these "eunuch families".
They worked out the lifespans of 81 eunuchs born between 1556 and 1861. The average age was 70 years, including three centenarians - the oldest reached 109.
By comparison, men in other families in the noble classes lived into their early 50s. Males in the royal family lasted until they were just 45 on average. There are no records for women at the time for comparison.
Dr Kyung-Jin Min, from Inha University, told the BBC: "We also thought that different living circumstances or lifestyles of eunuchs can be attributed to the lifespan difference.
"However, except for a few eunuchs, most lived outside the palace and spent time inside the palace only when they were on duty."
Instead he thinks the data "provides compelling evidence that male sex hormone reduces male lifespan".
Men v women
Women tend to outlive men across human societies. However, theories are hard to test in experiments and the exact reason for the difference is uncertain.
One thought is that male sex hormones such as testosterone, which are largely produced in the testes, could be damaging. The researchers said the hormones could weaken the immune system or damage the heart. Castration would prevent most of the hormone from being produced, protecting the body from any damaging effect and prolonging lifespan.
Dr Min said: "It is quite possible that testosterone reduction therapy extends male lifespan, however, we may need to consider the side effects of it, mainly reduction of sex drive in males.
Dr David Clancy, from the University of Lancaster, said: "The results are persuasive, but certainly not conclusive." He said the relatively high number of centenarians in the group suggested eliminating testosterone may have prolonged life. However, he cautioned that difference in lifestyle could have had a significant impact.
"In this case eunuchs were raised by eunuchs over generations, lifestyle differences may have been reinforced in this way.
"Castrato versus non-castrato singers are probably a better comparison, and showed no difference in lifespan. Non-castrato lived an average 65 years and both groups lived fairly cosseted lives."
Since only 81 of 385 recorded eunuchs had enough information present in the genealogy to pin down a life span, this could contain a bias towards longer-lived, more active, or more privileged individuals. There is no reason to think that these 81 are representative. But this is the nature of scientific research - individual research results have to be read skeptically and in the broader context of their field. However, the differences in their longevity are extremely striking, even for that subset.
So should we supplement with hormones for health and longevity? I have always cautioned against growth hormone but have supported testosterone where levels are below young age group levels. Now I™m not sure. Testosterone makes you feel and even look better in most cases. Will the tradeoff be pro-aging? Biochemistry is complicated, isn™t it?
LATEST HEADLINES FROM FIGHT AGING!
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It is thought that size in humans relates to life expectancy via aspects of metabolism such as growth hormone - less growth hormone means a smaller size but longer life in mammal species. Ames dwarf mice are an example of this taken to an extreme through genetic engineering, lacking growth hormone but living more than 60% longer than their peers.
From an evolutionary perspective, an abundance of food and good health in early life or gestation is thought to trigger a more aggressive front-loading of growth and fertility - which comes at the cost of faster decline once an individual is beyond their reproductive lifespan:
RATE OF INCREASE OF SHORT TELOMERES PREDICTS LONGEVITY IN MAMMALS Friday, September 28, 2012
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There is much more to it than this, however: telomere length across all the cells in a piece of living tissue is dynamic, as there are processes that lengthen telomeres as well - such as the activity of telomerase. In general average telomere length erodes with age, reflecting the progressive breakdown of the body's ability to maintain itself - but this proceeds quite differently in different tissues and different species.
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This sort of discovery helps to fill in a very complicated landscape of intertwining effects and controllers of effects - at some point in the not too distant future the research community will be able to set out a complete map of how all of the longevity genes and known ways to extend life in laboratory animals relate to one another and work through an overlapping set of mechanisms:
A MAMMAL WITH SUPERIOR REGENERATION Thursday, September 27, 2012
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Some studies have uncovered possible hints of this: you might recall the gene engineered MRL mice that have superior regenerative abilities due to inactivation of p21, for example. Here, researchers note the discovery of superior natural regenerative abilities in a rodent species - which should hopefully lead to some further insight into how we might make humans regenerate more capably:
A FEW MORE LONGEVITY-ASSOCIATED GENE VARIANTS Wednesday, September 26, 2012
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"Men and women have a different life expectancy. Not unexpectedly, several genes involved in lifespan determination have been found to influence the probability of achieving longevity differently in men and women.
NANOPARTICLES TO RELIABLY TARGET MITOCHONDRIA Tuesday, September 25, 2012
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Given a general method for placing any therapy inside mitochondria we should see more development and experimentation in ways to repair them. Here, researchers "have refined the nanoparticle drug delivery process further by using nanoparticles to deliver drugs to a specific organelle within cells.
EARLY RESULTS FROM A PROGERIA THERAPY TRIAL Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Researchers here show data resulting from a therapy targeting the underlying cause of progeria. Accelerated aging conditions are extremely rare, but this is interesting to the rest of us because the same mechanisms that run wild in progeria sufferers apparently occur in a minor way during normal aging - so a cure for progeria might have some utility for the rest of us as well:
"Results of the first-ever clinical drug trial for children with Progeria, a rare, fatal 'rapid-aging' disease, demonstrate the efficacy of a farnesyltransferase inhibitor (FTI), a drug originally developed to treat cancer.
AN INTERESTING COMMENT FROM A GOOGLE VENTURES PARTNER Monday, September 24, 2012
Via CNBC: "Google's Venture fund is planning to invest $1 billion in a wide-range of start-ups over the next five years, but the firm isn't necessarily looking for the next Facebook, Twitter or other media related business.
'There's a whole world of innovation out there outside of social media. It's a huge growth area, but we're investing a lot of money in life sciences,' said William Maris, Google Ventures managing partner.
WHEN I'M 164: AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVID EWING DUNCAN Monday, September 24, 2012
Author David Ewing Duncan is presently touting a new book on aging and aging research entitled "When I'm 164". Here is an audio interview: "With a new understanding of the biology of aging, we may be on the cusp of pushing life expectancy to ages once considered unimaginable.
Journalist and author David Ewing Duncan in his book When I'm 164, examines the potential technologies that could lead us to radical life extension and some of the consequences should science bring about a dramatic demographic shift.
Read More http://www.fightaging.org/archives/2012/09/when-im-164-an-interview-with-david-ewing-duncan.php
DISCLAIMER:Â News summaries are reported by third parties, and there is no guarantee of accuracy. This newsletter is not meant to substitute for your personal due diligence and is not to be taken as medical advice. For originating report, please see www.fightaging.org/