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Men who take ginseng live longer
Men who take Panax ginseng are likely to live longer. Health scientists at the Kwandong University in Korea concluded this after studying 6372 men and women in the Kangwha region of South Korea for 18 years. When the study started in 1985 all participants were older than 55.
Classical herbals, such as Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing - which translates roughly as The Divine Farmer's Medicine Chest - describe Panax ginseng as having life lengthening properties. The book is a compilation of entries written between 300 BC and 200 AD. However, there are only a few scientific studies demonstrating the life extending effect of ginseng on humans. The Kwandong study is one these few studies.
Now it could be that ginseng users are richer, better educated or simply more health aware. When the researchers filtered for these factors statistically, they saw that Panax ginseng only had a significant reduction on the risk of mortality for men and not for women.
The simplified table below shows the chance of death, fatal cardiovascular disease and fatal forms of cancer for regular users and non-users. Where P is less than 0.05 there is a significant difference between the chances.
Click on the table below for a larger version.
Risk of death is set at 1 for the non-users. Then it becomes clear that men who take ginseng regularly have a lower chance of dying. The research does not provide any clues as to how Panax ginseng extends life span in men.