Thursday, July 9, 2009

Living longer, better by eating less

According to a 20-year study on rhesus monkeys, substantially reducing food consumption slows the aging process and leads to longer life spans in primates, an article in today's Science magazine suggests. Ricki Colman and colleagues began their study at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center in 1989 by assigning adult rhesus monkeys, each between age 7 and 14, to either a caloric restriction group or a control group. Once the monkeys were assigned to a group, the researchers determined their baseline food intake. The control group continued at this baseline and the diets of the other group was reduced by 10 percent for three months until the desired 30 percent restriction was released. At the end of the study, 37 percent of the control group had died of age-related causes while only 13 percent of the low-calorie group had. This finding means that the control monkeys experienced a death rate from age-related conditions such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and brain atrophy three times that of the low-calorie group.
To read the full story, click here.

Rhesus monkeys are very closely related to humans; it was from experiments on these primates that led to our blood being classified as Rh-negative or Rh-positive.

I've heard of individual scientists who have chosen an ultra-restricted-calorie diet to test this theory, but I don't know of any study of this kind that involves a group of human beings as of yet.

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