Japanese study: Men’s interest in sex is linked to risk of early death

According to a newly published study, Japanese men with lower sexual interest may be at higher risk of early mortality.

It will be necessary for researchers to investigate the exact relationship between mortality and libido. Researchers speculate, however, that a reduced sex drive could indicate underlying health conditions.

A total of 20,969 people (8,558 men and 12,411 women) aged 40 or older had annual health checkups in Yamagata Prefecture, a mountainous region known for its hot springs, temples and scenic views.

Study results revealed by Japanese researchers

The researchers examined self-reported levels of sexual interest in an initial questionnaire and a follow-up survey years later [1]. A total of 503 of the original 20,969 subjects had passed away by that time.

Men who indicated a lack of sexual interest had significantly higher cancer and all-cause mortality rates. Despite controlling for variables such as age, alcohol consumption, BMI, diabetes, education, hypertension, smoking, marital status, frequency of laughter and psychological distress, the association held.

“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,” per the researchers [2].

In this study, sexual interest is prospectively examined in a community-based population for its relationship to all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality and cancer mortality. According to the study, women reported a greater lack of sexual interest than men: 16 percent of female participants in their sample reported such a lack, compared with 8 percent of male volunteers, but the study did not find a significant correlation between lower libido and mortality in women.

Because this is a purely observational study, it cannot be determined which factor is the cause and which is the effect. Scientists suggest that men’s lack of sexual interest may be caused by unhealthy lifestyles. Moreover, if sexual interest is associated with positive psychological factors, its absence may affect inflammatory, neuroendocrine and immune responses.

Study results revealed by Japanese researchers

Further studies are needed 

However, merely uncovering a potential connection like this is a vital step in understanding what is happening. More studies are needed to understand what is exactly happening. In addition, the study has some important caveats.

As part of the initial baseline questionnaire, a single question was used to determine whether a person had any interest in people of the opposite sex. Researchers acknowledge that even if everyone understands what this question means, it excludes those attracted to the same gender.

People who answer ‘no’ were defined as lacking sexual interest in the study. It follows, therefore, that sexual interest in someone of the same sex would also be considered to be lacking sexual interest in this study, the authors write.

Few more adjustments needed for more definitive results

As a result of the narrow question used in this study, the researchers estimate their sample may have included about 200 LGBTQ participants. Future research should consider this, according to the authors.

Additionally, certain “medically relevant elements known to affect sexual function and longevity” were not considered in the new study, such as neurological conditions or medications the subjects were taking.

Nevertheless, maintaining sexual interest could yield beneficial outcomes on longevity. In spite of the study’s limitations, the researchers argue that older Japanese populations must be made aware of sexual interest as a factor in public health.

As part of its ‘aging well’ agenda, the Canadian government has begun to promote sexual activity. In Japan, there is more stigma about sex among older people than in the West, according to the authors. Through advocating sexuality in Japan, we hope to promote public health.”

[1] https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-why-some-people-are-avoiding-sex
[2] https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0277967

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