Castrated men tend to live much longer than fully endowed guys, according to a new study that suggests male sex hormones are responsible for shortening the lives of men.
The findings, published today in the journal Current Biology, could offer clues on how to extend the male lifespan. There might be a tradeoff of quantity versus quality, though.
The possible negative consequences of castration include "decreased libido, depression and loss of physical strength," according to coauthor Kyung-Jin Min of Inha University.
For the study, Min and colleague Cheol-Koo Lee, an associate professor in the College of Life Sciences and Biotechnology at Korea University, analyzed genealogy records of noble members of the Imperial court of the Korean Chosun dynasty (A.D. 1392-1910).
The castrated boys either lost their reproductive organs in accidents (such as after being bitten by a dog) or they underwent castration purposefully to gain access to the palace. Male rulers, in particular, felt they could trust eunuchs with their female family members and harems, if they had them. Eunuchs could marry, though, and often adopted children, including other castrated boys.