Desperate for a magical potion to help them live longer, many frantically try a range of new things in the belief it will give them an extra 10 years of life.
But now scientists believe they’ve found out exactly how you can extend your lifespan – but it won’t be an easy change for many. Refraining from having sex will help you live longer than all of your peers, a study has found. And experts believe it could explain why nuns – who stay away from the act completely – tend to live longer.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield discovered that mealworm beetles live for longer if they avoid mating. While those who tried to produce offspring each day passed away at a much younger age. Mating was found to release a hormone in the insects needed to produce sperm in a male or eggs in a female.
But this was also found to have a negative effect on their immune system, the researchers found. This makes them vulnerable to potentially deadly infections as their body’s natural ability to fight rogue bacteria is compromised.
Despite the mechanism not being the same in humans, study author Dr. Michael Siva-Jothey believes the principle can be applied.
He said: “Nuns tend to have a longer lifespan than women with children and most people know of someone with a maiden aunt who seems to live forever.
“The question is, why? The beetles which mate die sooner than the beetles which don’t mate.”
Humans also have weaker immune systems during sex, which explains how Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) can be easily spread, he added.
Nuns, priests, vicars and monks are known to live longer than others – but not for their religious protection.
It is believed their low rates of high blood pressure – which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke – are responsible.
Also, researchers have found that drinking coffee and tea may help people to live longer by reducing chemicals in the blood that can trigger heart disease.
The finding that coffee drinkers tend to live longer than people who abstain has long puzzled scientists.
Now researchers at Stanford University believe they may have hit on a reason why a having a coffee or tea break is so good for us.
The study was published in Nature Medicine.
Caffeine, the ingredient that gives coffee, tea and some fizzy drinks a lift blocks chemicals in our blood that promote inflammation.
Inflamed blood vessels are more likely to become stiffer – a risk factor for heart disease. Inflammation also plays a key role in many other diseases, the research study said.
Tests on the blood of people fewer of the chemicals linked to inflammation – were found to have more caffeine in their bloodstream. Further investigation revealed that they, as might be expected, drank more coffee than their peers.
A chemical found in chocolate, theobromine, was also found to have an anti-inflammatory effect, although not as pronounced as caffeine.
The authors found that in an ongoing study following participants aged 20-30, and another group of people aged 60, those who ‘tended to drink more caffeinated beverages’ had lower levels of inflammatory compounds in their blood.