Judy Mandelbaum

Judy Mandelbaum
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June 01
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SEPTEMBER 24, 2012 7:28PM

The price of manhood: Does castration extend longevity?

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Manliness may well be one of the glories of the human race, but now even scientists are agreeing that it comes with a hefty price tag to everyone – and to no one more than to men themselves.

Three scientists from Korea - Kyung-Jin Min, Cheol-Koo Lee, and Han-Nam Park - got to wondering about the biological cost of testosterone production to male health and longevity. While it has long been known that the average male lifespan is significantly shorter than that of women, and the difference has frequently been traced back to male testosterone production, there is still no conclusive proof that this is the explanation. But how could they proceed? It’s not as if there is a large control population of castrated men out there waiting to be surveyed. Yes, there are plenty of cancer victims, but they are dealing with too many other health variables to be useful testing subjects. The same goes for the appalling number of American who have experienced horrific and traumatic lower body injuries from improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Previous studies of castrati, i.e. castrated singers, showed no difference in life expectancy vis-à-vis sexually intact men.)

So the Koreans decided to fall back on a rich treasury of historical data, namely the records of eunuchs from the Korean court during the Chosun Dynasty, which lasted from 1392 to 1910. Korean eunuchs, court servants and often high officials who had become eunuchs either by birth or by accident, or who had their testicles and frequently also their penises severed as a prerequisite for court service, led what practically amounted to a charmed life compared to their contemporaries in other Asian monarchies. As the authors write in the latest issue of Current Biology (Vol 22, No. 18),

Eunuchs of the Chosun Dynasty lived with privileges: Korean eunuchs were conferred with official ranks and were legally allowed to marry, a practice that was officially banned in the Chinese Empire. In addition, married couples were also entitled to have children by adopting castrated boys or normal girls. The boys lost their reproductive organs in accidents, or they underwent deliberate castration to gain access to the palace before becoming a teenager. Although the family of a eunuch was compose of non blood-related members, the bonding in these families is believed to have been as strong as that in traditional blood-related families.

The genealogical records the scientists examined – the so-called Yang-Se-Gye-Bo from 1805 - contained the vital data for 385 eunuchs. The scholars reconstructed a total of eighty-one life stories and compared them to the records of non-eunuchs. They came up with remarkable findings. The average lifespan of the eunuchs was seventy years, compared to between fifty-one and fifty-six years for the non-eunuchs. What’s more, “out of the 81 eunuchs, three were centenarians, aged 100, 101, and 109 years. The current incidence of centenarians is one per 3,500 in Japan and per 4,400 in the United States. Thus, the incidence of centenarians among Korean eunuchs is at least 130 times higher than that of present-day developed countries.” This remarkable longevity certainly had nothing to do with spending most of one’s time in a palace – the average age for Korean kings and non-castrated palace officials was forty-seven and forty-five years respectively.

This average life expectancy increase of seventeen years for Korean eunuchs matches the results from a recent study of castrated men in mental hospitals in the West: They live an average of fourteen years longer than their testosterone-generating comrades.

Overall, the scholars conclude, their study supports the long-standing theory that testicles and testosterone production – which demand a considerable expenditure of energy and resources from the male body, and have adverse effects upon the cardiovascular and immune systems, among other complications – reduce men’s life expectancy. But before you start making subtle hints to the man in your life, you might want to try rationing his smokes and chips first.


Image source: Alternative Archeology 





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At 86 I doubt castration for me is any more necessary. In any case, it's a pretty sure preventative measure against Aids.
umm, did anyone ask if court eunuchs ride motorcycles, hang out in roadhouses, and go to war for fun?

testosterone will kill you, but indirectly- blood that shouild be in your brain is elsewhere, assuring you that you are indestructible, handsome, and just as fast with a knife as that 6'4" hell's angel, whose girlfriend you are charmin'.
Sooooo....... without his equipment a man can live longer....... but, without his equipment, why would he want to?????!

Castration is a central concept in three fascinating Chinese Wu Xia films I saw in 1994 that were made in Hong Kong by Tsui Hark. In the first movie, Swordsman, a scroll called the Sunflower Manual is stolen from a temple. It is said to contain the secret to absolute power. The entire first two films revolve around the fight over the scroll.

At the end of the second film, Swordsman II, at a bonfire on a beach, one man reveals the secret to another when he explains that a man must castrate himself in order to become supernaturally powerful at Wu Xia or martial arts. Wu Xia is misnamed Kung Fu, which actually means discipline. Playing the piano can by Kung Fu.

In most Wu Xia films from Hong Kong, of which Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a high-art imitation, women are always far more powerful fighters than men, except for men who get castrated by accident or on purpose.

In a film called Wing Chun, about the life of Yim Wing Chun, the founder of Wing Chun style that Bruce Lee used, Michelle Yeoh plays the woman who has far more skill than most men. One man gets castrated in a battle with her, and his brother laughs at him and tells him he can now concentrate on Wu Xia and not be distracted by women.


The first film is The Swordsman
The answer to your title question is "I don't know and I don't want to find out." My first reaction to this post is to cross my legs. What is that old song (from Porgy & Bess, was it?) "Methuseleh lived nine hundred years/ Methuseleh lived nine hundred years/ but who calls tha living when no gal gonna give in/ to no man that's nine hundred years...."
(Actually what i have read in medical research is that both low and high testosterone creates health risks, and middling levels are best.)
I guess they forgot those questions!

I should check out those films.

That's what I understand as well.
My grandfather gladly accepted castration (for metastatic prostate cancer) when he was told it would extend is life expectancy (by 5 years as it turned out).
i like how inquisitive your mind is. i wonder what motivated this, or if it is all in the text. You take pity on the male testosteronies. I do too, the poor suckers often have hair. Your evidence may fall, however, in the face of the happiness of men (and woman according to the new book on the subject) who enjoy orgasm. Better to die young with a smile on your face than old and dried up.