Cutting Calories Might Extend Life -- For Monkeys, At Least
Cutting way back on calories may make for longer life.
So suggests a study of rhesus monkeys published today in the journal Science. The new research shows that fewer rhesus monkeys who ate a calorie-restricted diet had died in a 20-year period than those whose diets weren't restricted (only 50 percent of the nonrestricted animals survived at the time of the report, while 80 percent of those on calorie-restricted diets remained alive.) The calorie-restricted diet also appears to have delayed the onset of age-related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer among the monkeys.
The work is important because it represents the first time such an effect of calorie restriction has been observed in primates. Earlier work with mice and roundworms has shown cutting calories extends life, but scientists have been uncertain as to whether that phenomenon likely applies to primates -- and thus potentially to humans.
And we still don't know for sure. The current research reports on monkeys in their mid-to-late 20s; given their expected life span of 27 to 40 years, it will take about 15 more years for the last of the study subjects to die. Only then will the full picture become clear.
The monkeys on restricted diets consumed 30 percent fewer calories a day than they normally would eat. In humans, that would translate to consuming 600 calories less than the currently recommended average of 2,000 daily calories -- for a very low 1,400 calories.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
July 10, 2009; 12:17 PM ET
Categories: Cardiovascular Health , Chronic Conditions , General Health , Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity
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