Sex and longevity

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

David Gems of University College, London, says that contrary to held belief, males are genetically programmed to live longer than female but the relentless pursuit of sex is behind the shorter average male life span. During research on a species of worms, Gems observed that isolated male worms lived longer than males kept together or with females. isolated females had the same average life span as those kept with males, Gems put the premature deaths of male worms down to too much activity in defending territory and competing with other males. Humans are no exception. A study of 319 eunuchs in 1969 showed that their median life span was 13.4 years longer than normal males. Gems also points out that there are fewer women above the age of 90 than men (New Scientist, Vol 154, No 2083).

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