Japanese study shows men’s interest in sex linked to risk of early death: ScienceAlert
A lack of sexual interest may indicate an increased risk of early death among men living in Japan, according to a recently published study.
The exact relationship between mortality and libido is something researchers will have to tease apart, though researchers speculate that a decreased sex drive could be a more visible sign of subtle underlying health problems.
The data came from 20,969 people (8,558 men and 12,411 women) aged 40 or older who had annual health checkups over a six-year period in Yamagata Prefecture, a mountainous region of Japan known for its hot springs, temples and natural beauty.
A team of researchers from Yamagata University observed the subjects’ levels sexual interest as self-reported in the initial questionnaire and in a follow-up survey conducted years later. Of the original 20,969 subjects, 503 died during that time.
Researchers have discovered Cancer mortality and all-cause mortality were significantly higher for men who reported a lack of sexual interest.
This association held even when they controlled for factors including age, hypertension, diabetessmoking, alcohol consumption, BMI, education, marital status, frequency of laughter and psychological problems.
“Although sexual activity and sexual satisfaction are considered beneficial for psychological health and well-being in older age groups, the association between sexual interest and longevity has not been investigated,” the researchers write.
“This study is the first to prospectively examine the association between sexual interest and all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality in a community-based population.”
The study found that women were more likely than men to report a lack of sexual interest—16 percent of participants in their sample did so, compared to 8 percent of male volunteers—but found no significant association between lower libido and mortality in women as it was in men.
Since this is a purely observational study, there is no way to conclude which – if even one of the factors – is the cause and which is the effect.
It is possible that men’s lack of sexual interest could be linked to an “unhealthy lifestyle”, scientists suggest.
“Furthermore, if we assume that sexual interest is associated with positive psychological factors,” they write“absence of interest can affect a range of inflammatory, neuroendocrine and immune responses.”
More research will be needed to understand exactly what’s going on, but just discovering a potential link like this is an important step, the researchers added.
There are also some important caveats to consider in the study. A person’s lack of sexual interest was determined from one question on the initial baseline questionnaire: “Do you currently have any interest in people of the opposite sex?”
Even if everyone understands what the question is asking, it excludes those who are attracted to a person of the same sex, as the researchers acknowledge.
“Any person who answered ‘no’ was defined as having no sexual interest. Accordingly, same-sex sexual interest will be considered ‘lack of sexual interest’ in this study,” they write.
The researchers estimate that their sample may have included approximately 200 LGBTQ participants, and due to the narrow question used in this study, there is reason to doubt at least some of that data. The authors of the study call for future research that will take this into account.
The new study also did not adjust for certain “medically relevant elements known to affect sexual function and longevity,” the authors write, such as neurological conditions or medications the subjects were taking, since that was not part of the underlying research.
Nevertheless, maintaining sexual interest could have a positive effect on longevity. Despite the study’s limitations, the researchers advocate raising awareness of sexual interest as a public health factor among Japan’s elderly population.
“The Canadian government, through public health promotion materials, has begun to support sexual activity as one of the elements of the ‘good aging’ program. There are more prejudices about sex among the elderly in Japan than in the Western world,” study authors piss.
“We hope our findings will help promote public health through sexuality advocacy in Japan.”
The study was published in the journal PLOS One.