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Food Odors Linked With Lifespan in Fruit Flies

fundamental mechanisms at work, Van Voorhies said.

"You continue to work on the model organisms to try to figure out what the actual mechanism is, and then you can try to apply it to people," he said. "The pharmaceutical companies would like to be able to mimic the beneficial effects of caloric restriction by having you take a pill. But for that to work, you need to understand the mechanism by which caloric restriction extends longevity."

Sometimes – as in the new discovery of a link between food odors and lifespan in fruit flies – the questions get more complicated as scientists gain more knowledge.

Researchers hoping to learn why organisms tend to live longer if their intake of calories is restricted have made a startling discovery – in fruit flies, just the smell of food can have a negative effect on longevity.

Scientists have known for decades that restricted dietary intake can increase the lifespan of many species, but the mechanism that causes this is not understood. Short-lived organisms like the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, are studied to help unravel this mystery, and the knowledge gained could have important implications for human health.

In a paper to be published in Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a group of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and the University of Houston report that exposure to food odors can modulate lifespan and partially reverse the longevity-extending effects of dietary restriction in fruit flies.

"Not only can they not have their cake – they can't smell their cake" without shortening their lifespans, said Wayne Van Voorhees, a faculty member in the Molecular Biology Program at New Mexico State University and a member of the research collaboration.

The researchers, led by Scott Pletcher of the Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor, measured th
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