Do sopranos live longer?

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It’s long been known that women outlive men, on average; one proposed reason has been that estrogen provides protective benefits (including the prevention of occluded arteries), The Wall Street Journal reported.

And who has a lot of estrogen? Among other people, the kind of female opera singers who can hit the very highest of notes. Their levels of the hormone are notably higher than those of female singers who sing in a deeper register.

Using vocal range as a proxy for estrogen levels, then, a recent study compared the lifespans of 286 sopranos, altos, and mezzo-sopranos (the latter two were combined into one unit), born between 1850 and 1930. The researchers also looked at 226 male singers from the same period — tenors, baritones, and basses (the latter two groups, again, combined)—  to explore the effect of testosterone on lifespan.

On average, the women outlived the men by 1.5 years, but that difference wasn’t statistically significant. However, controlling for birth year (people born in 1850 were at a disadvantage!), sopranos lived about five years longer than the lower-voiced female singers. The differences among male singers were not significant.

Click for more from The Wall Street Journal.