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50+: Live Better, Longer

Can Good Sex Keep You Young?

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WebMD Feature

Nov. 13, 2000 -- When I asked my 77-year-old friend Peter Kranz of Darien, Conn., about his sex life, he was immediately forthcoming. "We make love twice a day," he said.

"You do this every day?" I asked.

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"The schedule is not written in stone," Peter explained. "But we do make love every day."

Michael Roizen, MD, would say that sex is keeping Kranz young. In his best-selling book, RealAge -- Are You as Young as You Can Be?, Roizen makes the case for the antiaging effects of sex after surveying the available literature. "Having sex at least twice a week can make your RealAge 1.6 years younger than if you had sex only once a week," Roizen says. He defines 'real age' as "an estimation of your age in biologic terms, not chronologic years."

Although Roizen's statistics are sketchy, he derives his figures primarily from a study done in Caerphilly, Wales, and published in the December 1997 British Medical Journal under the title, "Sex and Death: Are They Related?" One of the few efforts to examine the relationship between sex and mortality, the study found that men who reported at least two orgasms a week at the time of the study had less than half the risk of dying from various causes over 10 years of follow-up than those with a lower frequency of orgasm. Drawing on the researchers' remark that the evidence suggested a dose-response relationship -- meaning in this case that the more orgasms a man had, the longer he lived -- Roizen concluded that someone like my friend Peter, who has sex every day, could have a Real Age as much as 8 years younger.

At first blush (and Peter's candor did make me blush), my friend is a convincing example of Roizen's argument. He is youthful-looking, energetic, and actively involved in many interests. Peter still works as a developer of computer systems. He has had a steady, positive relationship with his wife who, at 77 also, still commutes to Manhattan for her own job at a major nonprofit institution.

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