Sopranos Live Longer

17 Jan 2015

It’s a fact that on average, women live longer than men.  But why?  One thought is that it might have to do with estrogen and the protective benefits it bestows on the body.  So it might stand to reason that people with higher levels of estrogen might live longer.

Female opera singers that can hit the highest notes—sopranos—have noticeably higher levels of estrogen than female singers with a deeper register.

Using vocal range as a predictor of estrogen levels, scientists compared the lifespans of 286 sopranos, altos and mezzo-sopranos born between 1850 and 1930.  And just to make it fair, they also looked at 226 male singers—tenors, baritones and basses—to see what kind of effect testosterone had.

The results?  The women outlived the men by an average of 1.5 years, which really wasn’t statistically significant.  But when birth years were weighted—let’s face it:  if you were born in 1850, you faced some definite health disadvantages—sopranos lived up to five years longer.

Back to Blog List