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Wednesday, 10 March, 1999, 11:09 GMT
Sex keeps you young
Regular sex "can take years off your looks"
Quite a lot of what you fancy, apparently, does you good, scientists have claimed.

Couples who have sex at least three times a week look more than 10 years younger than the average adult who makes love twice a week, says consultant neuro-psychologist Dr David Weeks, who has made a 10-year study of the subject.

"Pleasure derived from sex is a crucial factor in preserving youth. It makes us happy and produces chemicals telling us so," he claims.

"I would say that famous people with youthful good looks, such as Goldie Hawn, Helen Mirren and Joan Collins, all enjoy very active and healthy sex lives."

Goldie Hawn
Does Goldie Hawn prove the theory?
Dr Weeks said loving couples make more of an effort to keep themselves in good shape for their partners and will also benefit from the physical and emotional effects of sexual intercourse.

"There are physiological factors too," said Dr Weeks.

"Sex is the most intense kind of pleasure and that triggers certain chemicals. In women it produces a human growth hormone which helps the process."

Regular, loving sex came second to physical and mental activity as the factors most important to retaining youth.

The research discovered that people can benefit from working and socialising with younger and older people and from having younger partners.

The study also concluded that people who look younger are more altruistic, confident and have more intellectual activity.

The biggest factors contributing to ageing were found to be smoking, exposure to the sun and stress.

Dr Weeks warns it is loving intercourse with a regular partner, and not promiscuous sexual activity, which gives the most benefit.

"Casual sex would bring a lot of the detrimental things to staying youthful such as anxiety and the absence of security. Both those things are associated with a loss of youth."

Dr Weeks, of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, released the findings after interviewing more than 3,500 people aged 18 to 102 in Britain, Europe and the US.

They responded to an advertisement placed in the New Scientist in 1988 seeking people who looked and felt younger than they were.

He found that a person's genetic make-up was 25% responsible for youthful looks, with behaviour accounting for 75%.

Dr Weeks has published his findings in a book, Superyoung: The Proven Way to Stay Young Forever.

See also:

09 Sep 98 | Health
Passionate sex aids pregnancy
01 Oct 98 | Health
Death by sex
30 Oct 98 | Health
Public to be quizzed about sex
06 Nov 98 | Health
Forgettable sex
29 Nov 98 | Health
Sex diseases up among young
16 Dec 98 | Health
The magic of sexual attraction
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