Posted For: Willie Wonka
What could your love life now mean for your end of life later?
A study published in the journal PLOS One suggests that men with a low libido are almost twice (1.82 times) as likely to suffer an early death.
Researchers from Yamagata University studied more than 20,000 people — 8,558 males and 12,411 females — in Japan for over a decade, to examine links between sexual interest and “all-cause” mortality, including cardiovascular and cancer.
The study, which analyzed medical records and survey responses, is considered among the first to study the association between libido and mortality.
“Although sexual activity and sexual satisfaction are considered of benefit to psychological health and wellbeing in older groups, the association between sexual interest and longevity has not been investigated,” the study authors said.
The participants were asked to complete sexual interest surveys during health check-ins. Those who reported a lack of sexual interest tended to be older, were likely to drink more, had diabetes, laughed less, had some variation of psychological distress and had achieved lower education levels.
Results showed that men over the age 40 who had low libido were 1.94 times as likely to die from cancer and 1.36 times as likely to die of heart disease.
Men with lower sex drives also reported lacking ikigai, a Japanese term for the reason of having a life worth living — a quality some may describe as having a “zest for life.”
The scientists believe that men’s sex drives were reduced due to poor lifestyle habits.
“Based on these results, we speculate that maintaining sexual interest may be related to positive psychological well-being and ‘ikigai’ especially among men,” the scientists said.
Researchers further noted that while women were more than twice as likely as men to report lower libidos, they did not find a link between that and mortality.
The results remained the same even after attributing variables such as smoking, alcohol use, body mass index (BMI), underlying health conditions and exercise levels.
Scientists could not explain why there’s an association between libido and longevity; however, a constant lack of sexual interest can be a sign of poor habits that raise the risk of chronic disease, such as smoking, drinking or overeating, according to researchers.
Results did support the idea that a healthy sex life is part of what leads to better health overall. Benefits of sex include better sleep, boosts the immune system, reduces depression and anxiety, and helps heart health.
Considering the study was focused on a small portion of the population in a single part of Japan, the findings may not apply to the rest of the world.
The scientists hope that the study will “promote public health through advocating sexuality in Japan” — since Japan has “more prejudice about sex among the elderly than in the Western world.”
“Further study is required to clarify the mechanisms which underlie the preventive effects of sexual interest on mortality,” the scientists said.
“This finding has implications for the importance of sexual interest in increasing longevity in this population.”