According to new research, there may be a surprisingly successful technique for men to extend their lives — but it necessitates a very drastic bodily change that may not be appealing to everyone.
Castration of male sheep prevents DNA ageing, according to an international team lead by researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand, and the same principles could apply to humans (Males) as well.
“BOTH FARMERS AND SCIENTISTS HAVE KNOWN FOR SOME TIME THAT CASTRATED MALE SHEEP LIVE ON AVERAGE MUCH LONGER THAN THEIR INTACT COUNTERPARTS; HOWEVER, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME ANYONE HAS LOOKED AT DNA TO SEE IF IT ALSO AGES SLOWER,
Victoria Sugrue, a researcher at the University of Otago and lead author of a paper about the research published in the journal eLife, in a statement.
The research demonstrates the advancement of techniques that reveal the rate at which DNA matures. Indeed, cutting-edge research has enabled us to estimate the age of humans and other organisms solely based on their DNA.
WE DEVELOPED A WAY TO MEASURE BIOLOGICAL AGE IN A BROAD RANGE OF MAMMALS — WE HAVE LOOKED AT OVER 200 SPECIES SO FAR AND DISCOVERED SURPRISING COMMONALITY IN WHICH ANIMALS AGE
In a statement, research co-author Steve Horvath, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said. “However, the sheep research was unique in that it focused on the impact of male hormones on aging.”
Horvath developed the “epigenetic clock,” a biochemical genetic test for determining age. The test measures methylation levels, a biological process that has been linked to aging.
“We found that males and females have very different patterns of DNA aging in sheep; and that despite being male, the castrates [wethers] had very feminine characteristics at specific DNA sites,” said Tim Hore, research team co-leader and lecturer at Otago, in the statement.
The same findings, the scientists said, could also be applied to humans.
Interestingly, those sites most affected by castration also bind to receptors of male hormones in humans at a much greater rate than we would expect by chance,” Hore said. “This provides a clear link between castration, male hormones and sex-specific differences in DNA ageing.”
While scientists aren’t likely to advocate castration for men anytime soon — or ever, for that matter — the discovery could help farmers identify sheep that will live longer and produce more.
Indeed, a sheep named “Shrek” in New Zealand grew nearly 60 pounds of fleece and lived to the age of 16, far exceeding the average maximum age of ten years. You’ve guessed it.