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Perhaps a longer lifespan, certainly a longer 'health span'
Date:4/15/2010

Organisms from yeast to rodents to humans all benefit from cutting calories. In less complex organisms, restricting calories can double or even triple lifespan. It's not yet clear just how much longer calorie restriction might help humans live, but those who practice the strict diet hope to survive past 100 years old.

In a review article in the April 16 edition of Science, nutrition and longevity researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, University College in London and the Andrus Gerontology Center at the University of Southern California, report that calorie restriction influences the same handful of molecular pathways related to aging in all the animals that have been studied.

Aware of the profound influence of calorie restriction on animals, some people have cut their calorie intake by 25 percent or more in hopes of lengthening lifespan. But first author Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD, is less interested in calorie restriction for longer life than in its ability to promote good health throughout life.

"The focus of my research is not really to extend lifespan to 120 or 130 years," says Fontana, research associate professor of medicine at Washington University and an investigator at the Istituto Superiore di Sanit in Rome, Italy. "Right now, the average lifespan in Western countries is about 80, but there are too many people who are only healthy until about age 50. We want to use the discoveries about calorie restriction and other related genetic or pharmacological interventions to close that 30-year gap between lifespan and 'healthspan.' However, by extending healthy lifespan, average lifespan also could increase up to 100 years of age."

Fontana and his co-authors write about how cutting calorie intake between 10 percent and 50 percent decreases the activity of pathways involving insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), glucose and TOR (target of rapamycin), and considerably increases lifespan
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Contact: Jim Dryden
jdryden@wustl.edu
314-286-0110
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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