Testosterone explains why eunuchs lived longer than intact males: Study 0
For castrated servants like Dae-Eui Yang, there was good news along with the obvious cruel idea.
Researchers investigating why women live longer than men have suspected testosterone plays a role in the early burnout of most males -- so to test that theory, they looked at the lives of ancient eunuchs, including Yang.
In a study published Monday in the journal Current Biology, officials in Korea dusted off the birth and death records of castrated Koreans over five centuries, and compared them with men who went through life without a slice.
The eunuchs -- some who had lost their manhood by accident while others did it to secure a privileged position inside the royal household during Korea's Joseon dynasty -- often lived to 70 years old.
Eunuchs maintained their lineage by adopting sons who had also lost their testicles or penises. Both Yang and his father, also a eunuch, died at 75 years old. The son even survived the nasty business in 1830, when he was tossed out of the royal palace as a senior after a fire was started. He died a few years later.
When lead researcher Kyung-Jin Min of South Korea's Inha University compared the average age of death of eunuchs like Yang and his father with imperial nobility, he found those fully functioning blue-blooded males usually didn't survive beyond their 40s or 50s.
The scientists argue testosterone is tough on the body, with Min pointing out it reduces the immune system and increases heart disease.
Scientists previously found castrated mice live longer, as have mental patients who have faced the same loss.
This was good news for the longer life of men like Dae-Eui Yang, though those extra years were bought with a high price.