Is it scientifically proven that straight men live longer by looking at women's breasts?
August 16, 2006 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Is it scientifically proven that straight men live longer by looking at women's breasts?

My friend and I were discussing this and I really believe he's wrong.

His main point was that he believed he read that when looking at breasts, endorphins are released into the body causing a positive reaction which can result in a longer life span.

Though the positive reaction is understandable I don't think it could have a longevity effect on your life.
posted by phillygee to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd tell him the onus is on him to provide some evidence for his outlandish claim.
posted by raedyn at 1:36 PM on August 16, 2006

Why wouldn't gay men experience the same effect on looking at other men?
posted by ludwig_van at 1:38 PM on August 16, 2006

In order to prove this, the researchers would have to test this hypothesis against a control group of straight men who don't look at women's breasts.

There are no such straight men. QED, the research is impossible.

(By the way, did you know that "gullible" isn't in the dictionary?)
posted by ottereroticist at 1:40 PM on August 16, 2006 [3 favorites]

It is my understanding that checmicals such as iron, endorphins--some things that gives us more energy cause us to use cells faster, resultng in a shorter life span.
posted by scazza at 1:42 PM on August 16, 2006

I seem to remember a study claiming that sexually active rats had a shorter life span than a control group. I also seem to remember it was hypothesized this had something to do with hormones. Sorry, I can't find a reference right now...
posted by cerbous at 2:02 PM on August 16, 2006

Unless he can produce data, he's full of shit.
posted by agregoli at 2:10 PM on August 16, 2006

I can't remember where or when, but I read about a study that showed that looking at breasts for 10 minutes a day raises the heart rate and so counts as some form of beneficial exercise.

So... I guess that's some sort of proof.... if I'm recalling correctly...
posted by spark at 2:19 PM on August 16, 2006

I'd heard that "fact" too, but it's a myth.
posted by wryly at 2:21 PM on August 16, 2006

Mod note: a few comments removed, please keep comments on topic or take them to ask yahoo or metatalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:23 PM on August 16, 2006

Even if it where true it would be highly society specific as breasts are not universally regarded as sexual in nature. But, I ,like the others here, strongly suspect it is a load of crap
posted by edgeways at 3:52 PM on August 16, 2006

Best answer: It's based on the theory of aging that stresses, mainly oxidative stress but other types of stress too, cause aging and therefore shorten lifespan. Something like the accumulation of damage to DNA and cells and stuff over time is the source of apoptosis and cellular senescence and other signs of again, eventually leading to death. Anything that lowers physiological or chemical stress on the body is supposed to lengthen lifespan by reducing this accumulation of damage.

As a whole aging is still poorly understood (although much researched). There are several theories as to why we age and why we die, accumulation of oxidative stress damage is one of the major ones (which is actually split into various sub-theories). Other theories include things like antagonistic pleiotropy (things that help you survive childhood then come back to bite you later in life) and genetically programmed again (it follows some in built program) and mutation accumulation (DNA changes with each cell division, these mutations accumulate to cause aging). It's likely that in reality a combination of all these things happen.

It's also likely that something as simple as looking at breasts isn't going to have any real effect on a very complex, life-long biological process, particularly given the number of other things having much larger effects (environment, genetics, chance, ...) on that process. It is most definitely not "scientifically proven", nothing about the aging process in humans really is.
posted by shelleycat at 5:32 PM on August 16, 2006 [2 favorites]

genetically programmed again

Damn. For some reason my fingers think aging should be again. I thought I'd caught them all.
posted by shelleycat at 5:33 PM on August 16, 2006

I've definitely seen a scanned copy of a newspaper article that said that. I'll try to find it when I get home tonight.
posted by inigo2 at 5:52 AM on August 17, 2006

I've been thinking more about this. I haven't seen the original research your friend is referencing, but it likely does exist. What we need to remember is the difference between what the study actually found and what the scientists read into it.

Research papers are divided into sections (I'm sure we all know this, bear with me). The stuff in the results section are the actual measurable outcomes of the research, whereas stuff written in the discussion can be conjecture based on those results. I think that's what we're getting here. Looking at breasts made endorphins rise, a fairly obvious result so I'll assume it really happened. Then in the discussion the scientist probably said this rise in endorphins can led to longer life (due to the aging hypothesis I posted above). But just because this is written in a scientific paper doesn't make it 'proven', longer life is just an educated guess. Scientists always put some conjecture and future ideas in the discussion, it's a way of putting the research into context, showing future avenues of research and building overall theories of how things work. The media doesn't always get that (other scientists don't always either) and instead thinks 'it's in the research, it must be true'. Only the results are 'proven' in any way, and even then they are open to different interpretation or repetition.

Until your friend has a research paper with the long life effects in the results, i.e. straight men who looked at breasts lived a statistically significant time longer than those who didn't (after taking all confounding factors into account), rather than the discussion (i.e. endorphins went up so they're going to live longer) this idea is not scientifically proven or really anything more than an interesting idea. I'd be incredibly surprised if he can find that paper because the study is pretty much impossible to run (arg, breasts! don't look!) and the confounding factors would be impossibly huge.

All of this is at least partially why my boyfriend often accuses 'you scientists' (i.e. me) of being wishywashy and never making absolute statements :D
posted by shelleycat at 5:19 PM on August 18, 2006

I remember reading something along these lines out on the internet a while back. And if its on the internet then it must be true. All jokes aside, I think the theory, in theory, makes sense.
posted by jasondigitized at 2:36 PM on August 23, 2006

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