Science and Tech


Sexual Frustration Shortens Fruit Flies' Life Spans: Study

The study found male fruit flies that received sexual signals but didn’t have sex experienced decreases in fat storage and more stress.
Posted at 7:01 PM, Nov 30, 2013

This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "getting lucky." A new study out of the University of Michigan suggests sexual frustration could shorten the life spans of male fruit flies.

The study shows male fruit flies that received sexual signals from females but didn't have sex experienced decreases in fat storage and more stress. (Via Los Angeles Times)

They were also less resistant to starvation and had shorter life spans. (Via Nature World News)

However, "mating, on the other hand, partially reversed the negative effects on health and aging." (Via The Courier-Journal)

A writer for Forbes explains how the experiment was carried out: Researchers placed male fruit flies with genetically engineered male fruit flies that released the same pheromones females do. The normal male flies tried unsuccessfully to mate with the genetically engineered males.

The study's senior author, Scott Pletcher, says this research sheds light on the aging process.

"These data may provide the first direct evidence that aging and physiology are influenced by how the brain processes expectations and rewards. In this case, sexual rewards specifically promoted healthy aging." (Via Science Codex)

Although this study is specific to fruit flies and not humans, fruit flies are commonly used in research that sheds light on humans' health because they have some genes in common. (Via National Geographic)

Another study about the sex lives of fruit flies done last year showed fruit flies that were denied sex chose to drown their sorrows in alcohol-spiked food over non-alcohol spiked food. (Via University of California, San Francisco)

The latest study was published in the journal Science.