The Myth of Calorie Restriction and Life Extension

January 24 2009 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future
Category: Social Issues   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

Much has been made of Caloric Restriction (CR) and how it is the one true life-extension strategy currently available.  In countless articles and videos it has been given much attention and Fatmouse2.jpgthere are a bunch of folks whose stomachs are growling as we speak that will be disappointed to learn that this strategy may be flawed.

A new study by Raj Sohal and Michael Forster recapped on EurekAlert! shows that CR is essentially only effective when "an animal eats more than it can burn off."  The problem it seems is that it really only works for obese mice and has little or no benefit for those who aren't.

The study looked at two different genetically altered strains of mice - basically a fat mouse and a skinny mouse (I think this may have sitcom potential).  The takeaway was that calorie restriction helped the mouse that had been programmed to double its weight over its lifespan while it did not extend the life of the skinny mouse.  In fact, when CR is started later in life they found that it actually shortened the lifespans of leaner test subjects.  The authors noted that previous studies have also demonstrated that wild mice experience minimal life-extension benefits from CR.

Life extension and aging are becoming increasingly hot topics as demographic cohorts of those over 60 continue to grow, particularly in advanced nations.   It seems apparent that significant extension will come from biotechnologies including stem cell treatments, gene therapy, organ replacement and the like while lifestyle enhancements will come in the form of assistance from household robots, exoskeletons, implants and web based apps that monitor and provide reminders.  In the meantime, common sense rules:  Try to stay relatively lean, exercise, eat right and reduce stress - these are the best strategies until the big guns arrive.  But don't despair - they're  coming soon!


Via EurekAlert!

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