Polygamy helps men live longer

News items constantly appear that attribute longevity to all kinds of causal factors.  Broccoli, cumquat  and Acai berry diet, anybody?  Here is one factor that can stir up the hornet’s nest. A recent research study indicates that polygamist men live on average seven years longer than their monogamist counterparts.  The study is based on population statistics, looking at men aged over 60.  Carefully adjusting for socioeconomic differences, men from 140 countries that practice polygamy to varying degrees live on average 12% longer than men from 49 mostly monogamous nations(also see ref).  Why this difference in male longevity exists is not clear.  One possibility is subtle pheromonal communications with younger women that enliven older men, another is the challenge multiple wives pose requiring constant physical and mental activity, another yet is evolutionary advantage to those who have many grandchildren to take care of, another-yet is simply eating better due to having more cooks.  As of this moment pending further research, I do not dare to suggest adding another wife as part of my anti-aging firewalls for men.

About Vince Giuliano

Being a follower, connoisseur, and interpreter of longevity research is my latest career. I have been at this part-time for well over a decade, and in 2007 this became my mainline activity. In earlier reincarnations of my career. I was founding dean of a graduate school and a university professor at the State University of New York, a senior consultant working in a variety of fields at Arthur D. Little, Inc., Chief Scientist and C00 of Mirror Systems, a software company, and an international Internet consultant. I got off the ground with one of the earliest PhD's from Harvard in a field later to become known as computer science. Because there was no academic field of computer science at the time, to get through I had to qualify myself in hard sciences, so my studies focused heavily on quantum physics. In various ways I contributed to the Computer Revolution starting in the 1950s and the Internet Revolution starting in the late 1980s. I am now engaged in doing the same for The Longevity Revolution. I have published something like 200 books and papers as well as over 430 substantive.entries in this blog, and have enjoyed various periods of notoriety. If you do a Google search on Vincent E. Giuliano, most if not all of the entries on the first few pages that come up will be ones relating to me. I have a general writings site at www.vincegiuliano.com and an extensive site of my art at www.giulianoart.com. Please note that I have recently changed my mailbox to vegiuliano@agingsciences.com.
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5 Responses to Polygamy helps men live longer

  1. How can they be sure the monogamous men were truly monogamous? This group might have only been married to one woman, but involved with many.

  2. admin says:

    True, true. This is a large-populations study looking at averages over large numbers of individuals. No doubt there were many men in the societies that practie monogamy who had many sexual partners. And there were also many men in the societies that practice polygamy who had only one partner or no partner at all.

  3. ginger says:

    I think there was also a study some years ago that administered a general “life satisfaction” or “happiness” test to a large number of people. When they looked at the subjects’ sex and marital status, they found that married men in general were significantly happier than the other three groups. The least happy group overall were the married women. That says something right there, doesn’t it? I wonder what polygamy does to the women…

  4. admin says:

    Ginger: I don’t know any statistis about happiness and longevity of women who live in polygamous relationships, or in polyandry for that matter. There does seem to be some scholarly history of writing about polygamy and longevity, however, such as this 1979 item http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/439954. I think the author was saying that human evolution and longevity were on the increase as long as we had tribalism and polygamy, but when civilization and monogamy came along that wrecked the progress. “The general thesis is that a very greatly accelerated rate of incorporation of favorable genes or gene combinations can be achieved in surprisingly few generations among social animals provided that dominant males become the patriarchs of many descendents by virtue of their partial or complete monopoly on available females.” That argument may or may not have scientific validity but would surely get a professor picketed today if not thrown out of the university. In any event he is patently wrong since human lifespan over the last few thousand of years has gone ip from something like 28 years to 79 years.

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