Why Men Die Earlier than Women and the Totally Radical Remedy

Men probably aren't ready for this one.


Historically, demographically, ethnically, medically — no matter how you evaluate life spans, women live longer than men. From chromosomes to bad habits, the reasons why are muddied and inconsistent. Some scientists say stress, while others stress sex. While it is a fact that men, on average, have lives that are 5 percent shorter than women, there is little understanding as to why.

Until now: Recent research points to the fact that what makes men, well, "men," may also be what kills them — testosterone. The average adult man has up to 15 times the amount of testosterone of women and studies now show that the absence of the hormone may in fact be a good thing for life spans. Women consistently live longer — no matter the odds — because they produce such a trivial amount of it. Only eunuchs who were castrated before puberty have significantly longer lives than men who go through adolescent hormonal changes.

Did ancient cultures perhaps value these castrated males because they somehow knew they possessed longevity because of their missing testicles?

The idea that eunuchs are the only men who can live longer lives is fascinating for several reasons, the main one being that they have been historically essential to “male” roles across cultures. In Ancient Rome, they were essential confidants and sexual possessions in aristocratic courts, while Vikings raided monasteries for eunuchs to feed the slave trade for Islamic empires. Did ancient cultures perhaps value these castrated males because they somehow knew they possessed longevity because of their missing testicles?

It’s hard to say. But it is interesting to note that today, there are more eunuchs than ever in history (mainly because of prostate cancer). Maybe the future of men's health will not be driven by what they perceive makes them male, but in spite of it.

For now, here's an alternative from Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones Solution: a study of regions where the local population enjoys exceptionally long average lifespans.

Yug, age 7, and Alia, age 10, both entered Let Grow's "Independence Challenge" essay contest.

Photos: Courtesy of Let Grow
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • The coronavirus pandemic may have a silver lining: It shows how insanely resourceful kids really are.
  • Let Grow, a non-profit promoting independence as a critical part of childhood, ran an "Independence Challenge" essay contest for kids. Here are a few of the amazing essays that came in.
  • Download Let Grow's free Independence Kit with ideas for kids.
Keep reading Show less

Four philosophers who realized they were completely wrong about things

Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?

Sartre and Wittgenstein realize they were mistaken. (Getty Images)
Culture & Religion

Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways. 

Keep reading Show less

Withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants can last over a year, new study finds

We must rethink the "chemical imbalance" theory of mental health.

Bottles of antidepressant pills named (L-R) Wellbutrin, Paxil, Fluoxetine and Lexapro are shown March 23, 2004 photographed in Miami, Florida.

Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A new review found that withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants and antipsychotics can last for over a year.
  • Side effects from SSRIs, SNRIs, and antipsychotics last longer than benzodiazepines like Valium or Prozac.
  • The global antidepressant market is expected to reach $28.6 billion this year.
Keep reading Show less

Is there a limit to optimism when it comes to climate change?

Or is doubt a self-fulfilling prophecy?

David McNew/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs

'We're doomed': a common refrain in casual conversation about climate change.

Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…